However, the Dynamo launched a comeback in the second period and halved the deficit in the 51st minute when Ricardo Clark found the target from outside the visitors' penalty area.
Then Jamison Olave was shown a straight red card on 65 minutes and the hosts subsequently took advantage of their numerical superiority, scoring the equaliser deep into stoppage time through Omar Cummings.
Read how it all unfolded in our minute-by minute live commentary below.
8.01pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole’s live coverage of the MLS playoff between the Houston Dynamo and the New York Red Bulls. It promises to be a very intriguing and exciting match, and you can follow all the action live as it happens on this page.
8.03pmThis is the first leg of the Eastern Conference semi-final tie between the two sides. The Red Bulls are the favourites to progress from this tie, but the Dynamo at home will be keen to take a healthy advantage into the second leg in New York.
8.05pmThe last time the Dynamo hosted the Red Bulls was on October 20 in the MLS regular season. On that occasion Mike Petke’s side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, with Tim Cahill scoring the quickest goal in MLS history after just eight seconds.
8.08pmPetke’s counterpart Dominic Kinnear is suspended from the touchline for tonight’s match following his involvement in a melee at the end of the Dynamo’s 3-0 victory over Montreal Impact in the first round of the MLS playoffs. How the hosts will cope without their tactician tonight against the might of the Red Bulls remains to be seen.
8.10pmThe Dynamo will not be helped by the sensational record that the Red Bulls have against them. The New York outfit have won three matches against them this year, and the likes of Cahill, Thierry Henry and Peguy Luyindula will be looking to extend it to four.
8.12pmHowever, the home side will also have this fact in the back of their mind tonight – they have not scored a goal in their last 263 minutes of football in front of their own supporters.
8.13pmThe teamsheet is out and I will type them here in a moment...
8.15pmNEW YORK RED BULLS XI: Robles; Olave, Holgersson, Carney, Sekagya, McCarty, Alexander, Steele, Luyindula; Henry, Cahill
8.17pmWill Bruin and Giles Barnes continue to lead the line for the Dynamo, who will line up in a 4-4-2 formation tonight. The Red Bulls will also have a similar shape to their formation, with Henry and Cahill spearheading their charge.
8.19pmWe are just over 10 minutes away from kickoff at the BBVA Compass Stadium and the exitement is already building. The Red Bulls will be favourites to pick up a win tonight, but this is a cup tie and anything’s possible. What one can be sure of is unalloyed entertainment that the following 90 minutes will provide.
8.22pmThe two sets of players will be out on the pitch in a matter of minutes. Much will depend on who score the first goal. The Red Bulls have shown again and again that they can stage a comeback after going a goal down, but the Dynamo could struggle if they concede an early goal.
8.26pmWe are inching closer and closer to kickoff at BBVA Compass Stadium. It should be a fascinating encounter and we should see a few goals. I will put forth my prediction of the match shortly.
8.28pmPREDICTION Houston Dynamo 1-2 New York Red Bulls. I predict a narrow win for the New York Red Bulls. They are one of the strongest sides in the MLS and given their recent record against their hosts, they will head into the encounter as favourites. However, I do see the Red Bulls conceding a goal tonight.
8.32pmThe match is yet to start, although it is past its scheduled time. However, don’t worry – the clash will get underway in a matter of minutes.
8.35pmThe tie will should get underway in around five minutes or so. I have always observed that MLS matches start a few minutes after they are scheduled to!
8.40pmThere are a number of European football matches being played at the moment and we can covering a few of them live here on Sports Mole. If you fancy, you can check them out here.
8.44pmThe two sets of players are now getting out onto the pitch. Fans of both teams are in carnival mood and the cheerleaders are getting ready to do their thing. Exciting!
8.48pmThe pre-match rituals are now underway and the cheerleaders are doing their thing. It looks very exciting and seems as if they are going to have a show tonight!
8.51pmThe pre-match formalities are now almost over and the game will get underway in a matter of minutes. The stadium is very bright and colourful, and both sets of supporters are in optimistic mood.
8.53pmKickoff is literally just moments away. Finally!
1 minKICKOFF The Houston Dynamo get the game underway, this the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-final tie.
2 minIt has been a slow start to the match with hosts Dynamo hogging possession in midfield. The Red Bulls are struggling to string together more than two passes at the moment.
5 minCHANCE!Thierry Henry creates something out of nothing for the Red Bulls. A loose ball falls to him around 25 yards from the Dynamo goal and he tries to lob Tally Hall with a first-time effort with his right foot, but his attempt goes wide.
7 minThe Red Bulls are getting into their stride now as a cross is drilled into the Dynamo penalty area aimed at Tim Cahill, but home side’s goalkeeper Hall makes a good interception.
8 minHenry sends a ball into the Dynamo penalty area once again, but this time the home side’s defenders are able to clear the danger. The visitors have settled into the encounter and I suspect that they could be the ones opening the scoring tonight.
10 minAnother New York Red Bulls move that force the Dynamo Houston defenders to make an intervention. Jonny Steele releases Henry down the left and the former Arsenal striker sends in a low cross that is hacked to safety. The home side are being forced to drop deep.
12 minThe contest has yet to kick into life, if I am being honest. There have been a few half-chances for the Red Bulls, but that’s that. It’s been largely scrappy and without much ‘X-factor’. But we have played just 12 minutes of the encounter
14 minA low cross is drilled into the Red Bulls penalty area from the left by Brad Davis, but Jamison Olave makes the clearance. The Dynamo are having a good spell of possession at the moment.
15 minThe Red Bulls try to launch a counter-attack after the home side loose the ball rather cheaply in midfield, but Hall is alert to a through-ball and collects it without much ado.
17 minThe sun is shining on BBVA Compass Stadium, but the football leaves much to be desired. The two teams are pretty much cancelling out each other and are not taking any risks to open up the game.
19 minGood attacking move from the Dynamo but equalling good defending from Markus Holgersson. Davis’s clever dummy releases Ricardo Clark on the left who threads into the Red Bulls penalty area, but Holgersson makes sure to stop him in his tracks.
22 minGOAL! Houston Dynamo 0-1 New York Red Bulls (Tim Cahill)
22 minNew York Red Bulls take the lead against the Houston Dynamo midway through the first half and how! Thierry Henry is released down the left and he swivels his way past his marker and floats in a cross that Cahill turns home in emphatic fashion with his head
23 minsuspect that the Red Bulls will now be running away with the match. I mentioned earlier in my commentary that the first goal will be crucial, and given that the visitors have taken the lead, it would really be a surprise if the Dynamo go on to pick up a win tonight.
26 minCHANCE!Kofi Sarkodie tries his luck with a first-time effort from outside the Red Bulls box, but his effort does not trouble goalkeeper Luis Robles. On second glance, it was not that far away from the frame of the visitors’ goal, but Robles had it covered.
28 minGood defending from the Red Bulls’ Ibrahim Sekagya as he clears a dangerous-looking cross from the right. The Dynamo have stepped up their game since conceding the goal and are coming out at their opponents.
30 minThe Red Bulls have dropped deep since scoring their goal on 22 minutes, but then again, they are a counter-attacking team and could well score their second soon.
32 minGOAL! Houston Dynamo 0-2 New York Red Bulls (Eric Alexander)
32 minWonderful goal from a counter-attacking move by the Red Bulls. The visitors break away from the midfield and Cahill releases Eric Alexander, who runs with the ball into the six-yard box, does a quick cutback and slots home past Hall.
35 minThe New York Red Bulls are in firm control of the contest at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. They have not played particularly well, but two goals in the space of 10 minutes have put them in the ascendency.
37 minYELLOW CARDJonny Steele is the first player to go into the referee’s books as he is cautioned for his challenge on Oscar Boniek Garcia just outside the Red Bulls box. The resultant free kick is headed wide by Bobby Boswell.
40 minFive minutes remain in the first half of the first leg of the MLS Eastern Conference semi-final tie. New York Red Bulls lead Houston Dynamo 2-0 away from home and are in cruise control. A goal for the hosts before the break could change the complexion of the match, though.
42 minThe Dynamo have pressed on in the last couple of minutes, rushing towards the Red Bulls goal with gusto, but in vain. There is still a way back for the home side in this match, but they need to find a good soon.
43 minCHANCE!Will Bruin shoots just off-target for the Dynamo as they squander one of the few genuine chances they have created in the first half. The forward is released by Ricardo Clark deep inside the Red Bulls penalty area and his effort is not bad either, but it is not good enough to warrant a goal.
44 minThe Dynamo press on again down the right flank as Oscar Boniek Garcia drills in a cross, but he overhits it and does not trouble the visiting defence at all.
45 minOne minute of normal time has been added on at the end of first half.
45+1 minHALF TIME: Houston Dynamo 0-2 New York Red Bulls
9.42pmThe referee blows the half-time whistle and brings an end to proceedings in the opening 45 minutes. The New York Red Bulls are 2-0 up against the Houston Dynamo away from home, thanks to goals from Tim Cahill and Eric Alexander.
9.45pmCahill opened the scoring at BBVA Compass Stadium midway through the first half with a header following a wonderfully crafted Theirry Henry cross from the left. Then 10 minutes later Alexander finished off a brilliant counter-attacking move from just yards out.
9.48pmOn the balance of play, the Red Bulls deserve to be in the lead. Mike Petke’s side have not been exactly pretty to watch so far tonight, but they have taken their chances and have been clinical in front of goal. Defensively too the visitors have proved tough.
9.51pmAnother goal from the Red Bulls, and not only would the game be wrapped up but also the tie. However, a Dynamo goal in the opening 15 or so minutes in the second half could give them a fighting chance. But for that to happen, they need to be more cohesive in attack and pass the ball better. Also, they need to make sure that they keep his shots on target. Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles have not had to make a single save in the first 45 minutes.
9.54pmThe second half will get underway shortly and the first 15 minutes could prove to be decisive not only in deciding the outcome of the contest but also of the tie. It will be interesting to see what approach the Red Bulls take – they will surely be happy with a 2-1 win away from home in the first leg but a third goal could just about seal their place in the MLS Eastern Conference playoff final.
9.56pmThe two sets of players are now back out on the pitch as the second half is about to get underway.
46 minKICKOFF The New York Red Bulls get the second half underway. The visitors are 2-0 up from the first half.
47 minJust like in the first half, the second 45 minutes have also seen a slow start from both teams. It suits the Red Bulls perfectly well as they are 2-0 up, but the home side need to do something quickly to resurrect their chances of progressing further in the playoffs.
51 minGOAL! Houston Dynamo 1-2 New York Red Bulls (Ricardo Clark)
51 minThe Houston Dynamo pull one back and in fashion! For the first time tonight the Red Bulls are at a loss at the back. A cross is floated in from the left that is hacked clear in desperation only as far as Clark on the edge of the area. The Dynamo midfield makes no mistake in whizzing his effort past Robles and into the Red Bulls net. Dominic Kinnear’s side are back in the contest!
54 minYELLOW CARD Thierry Henry becomes the second player in the match to be cautioned. He goes for a high ball and is adjudged to have committed a foul on Dynamo goalkeeper Hall in the process.
55 minThat Dynamo goal has actually spurred on the Red Bulls, who are showing urgency and commitment to take the game to their hosts. However, the Dynamo have got a new spring in their steps now.
58 minSuperb defending from Jamison Olave as he defends brilliantly on the right flank and averts a potential danger. The Red Bulls have looked very strong at the back tonight, except for that occasion when they conceded the goal.
59 minCHANCE! Will Bruin goes close to making it 2-2 as he gets a side foot to a corner that goes just wide. On second glance, it appears that it took a deflection off of Ibrahim Sekagya and the hosts should have been given a corner.
60 minCHANCE! Now Giles Barnes goes for a long-range effort that does not trouble Luis Robles as it goes harmlessly wide. The home side are indeed looking very, very unbeat about their chances of scoring their second goal of the contest.
61 minSUBSTITUTION The Dynamo make their first change of the match. Omar Cummings replaces Giles Barnes.
62 minYELLOW CARD The referee dishes out yet another card, this time to Oscar Boniek Garcia of the Houston Dynamo for his foul on Henry.
65 minRED CARD! The New York Red Bulls have been reduced to 10 men as Jamison Olave has been shown a straight red card for a lunge on Omar Cummings!
67 minOh, how things have changed for the Red Bulls! At half time they were 2-0 up and seemingly on their way to a resounding away win. Now they are a man down and are just 2-1 up. Perhaps it was a bit harsh on the part of the referee to show Olave a straight red for that challenge – after all, it was his trailing leg that caught Cummings and the Red Bulls did not really meant to harm his opponent – but the crux of the matter is that the Dynamo have the advantage now.
68 minSUBSTITUTION The New York Red Bulls make their first change of the night. Brandon Barklage replaces Jonny Steele.
73 minThe game has petered a bit in the last few minutes with the Red Bulls slowing down the contest’s momentum and with the substitutions taking place.
74 minSUBSTITUTION Another change for the Red Bulls. Lloyd Sam comes on for Pegguy Luyindula.
76 minJust under 15 minutes of normal time remain at BBVA Compass Stadium where the New York Red Bulls are 2-1 up against the Houston Dynamo. However, they are a main down and their opponents are playing with increased confidence.
78 minCHANCE!Eric Brunner goes agonisingly close for the home side as he heads a Brad Davis corner just wide of the Red Bulls goal. It was a brilliant delivery and an equally good header.
79 minIt would be interesting to note that there have been only two corners so far in the match and both have gone the Dynamo’s way.
80 minJust 10 minutes of normal time remain in this encounter. Can the 10 men of the New York Red Bulls hold on for what will still be a very good 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo away from home?
82 minCHANCE! Andrew Driver shoots just wide of Luis Robles’s goal from a very good position inside the Red Bulls penalty box. The chance is created by Will Bruin, who plays a one-two with a teammate on the right flank, marches into the Red Bulls penalty and lays the ball for Driver.
83 minSUBSTITUTION Final change of the match for the Red Bulls. Bradley Wright-Phillips replaces the limping Eric Alexander, who scored his side’s second goal in the 32nd minute.
85 minYELLOW CARD Another Red Bulls player goes into the referee’s book - Brandon Barklage for his cynical challenge on Ricardo Clark.
85 minFive minutes of normal time remain in this fascinating and finely posed encounter. Five minutes for hosts Dynamo to find the equaliser, five minutes for visitors Red Bulls to hold for a very good 2-1 win.
86 minSUBSTITUTION Final change of the match for Houston Dynamo. Cam Weaver replaces Eric Brunner.
88 minJust two minutes of normal time remain in this encounter. The hosts are still pressing on for an equaliser.
90 minFour minutes of injury time have been awarded at the end of the first half.
90+2 minGOAL! Houston Dynamo 2-2 New York Red Bulls (Omar Cummings)
90+2 minIt’s now 2-2 at BBVA Compass Stadium and it is Omar Cummings who scores the equaliser for the Houston Dynamo. Ben Davies floats in yet another brilliant corner that is headed towards goal. Robles make the save the first time, but the ball falls to Cummings, who slots home with ease from just yards out.
90+3 minPENALTY APPEAL The Dynamo fans are on their feet as Cummings is brought down inside the Red Bulls area, but the referee waves play on.
90+4 minFULL TIME: Houston Dynamo 2-2 New York Red Bulls
10.48pmThe referee blows the final whistle and brings a thrilling MLS encounter to a close. Houston Dynamo have battled back from 2-0 down at half time to earn a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, who played the last 25 minutes of the clash with 10 men.
10.50pmTim Cahill and Eric Alexander put the visiting Red Bulls 2-0 up after 32 minutes, but Ricardo Clark halved the deficit for the Dynamo just six minutes into the second half. Jamison Olave was shown a straight red card for a dangerous challenge, leaving the hosts with a one-man advantage which they duly took, as Omar Cummings scored the equaliser deep into injury time.
10.52pmThis MLS Eastern Conference semi-final tie is finely balanced as we head into the second leg of the playoff. The New York Red Bulls will still remain the favourites but they will be without the suspended and key defender Olave, which could be an invitation to the Houston Dynamo to making attack forays in the second half. The second leg promises to be a tantalising affair!
10.54pmAnyway, that’s it from me for now. Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole and hope that you enjoyed our live coverage of what proved to be a four-goal thriller. Have a good night.