New York (11-9-11) entered the game in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, holding onto the final playoff spot.
New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips was held scoreless for consecutive matches for the first time since April. He had a blocked shot fall to him at the top of the 6-yard box in the 23rd minute, but his left-footed attempt hit off the crossbar. His open header in the 56th minute sailed over the crossbar and his breakaway in the 60th minute was saved by Tyler Deric.
Houston (10-14-6) fell to 0-8-3 at Red Bull Arena.
New York's Tim Cahill received a straight red card in the 88th minute for a rough tackle of Oscar Garcia.
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