David Villa and Maxi Moralez celebrate the former’s goal, but NYCFC did not leave the field smiling. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON — New York City FC’s weaknesses were never more apparent in its 3-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium Friday night.

Without Yangel Herrera, who was forced out of the game with a first-half injury, the defense — team and backline — was shaky. The Dynamo took advantage of two mistakes in the back as City lost a one-goal lead and eventually the game.

The result left NYCFC (7-3-3, 24) tied with Columbus Crew SC for second place in the Eastern Conference while Houston (5-3-3, 18) jumped from sixth to fourth place in the Western Conference.

The loss could turn out worse for City as Herrera left the encounter with an injury in the 14th minute. His situation certainly did not look good as he was wheeled off the playing area and into the bowels of the stadium. Tommy McNamara, who had seen only 50 minutes of action in three games as a subtitute this season, replaced the Venezuelan.

Without Herrera’s presence in the midfield, Houston was able to penetrate deeper and quicker.

David Villa continued his scorching scoring pace, connecting for his eighth goal of the season in only 10 games in the sixth minute as he intercepted a poor clearance by former Red Bulls midfielder Eric Alexander and volleyed the ball past goalkeeper Joe Willis into the left corner.

The Dynamo, however, refused to go quietly, striking twice on either side of halftime.

First, the unmarked Alejandro Fuenmayor’s header at the far right post off a Romell Quito free kick in the 21st minute equalized the match.

Tomas Martinez lifted Houston into a 2-1 lead in the 69th minute, as Oscar Boniek Garcia stole the ball on the left side and fed Martinez in the middle as he slotted the ball past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

If it wasn’t for the steady play of Johnson, the final score would have been greater as he made several vital and spectacular saves.

Take, for example, what transpired in the 80th minute. Honduran international Alberth Elis headed a point-blank shot that Johnson dove to his right to block. The rebound, however, came right to Elis, who had a relatively easy tap-in for the insurance goal and a 3-1 margin.

SCORING SUMMARY

 

6’ – NYC – David Villa

21’ – HOU – Alejandro Fuenmayor (Assisted by: Romell Quioto) 

69’ – HOU – Tomas Martinez

80’ – HOU – Alberth Elis

 

DISCIPLINE SUMMARY

 

16’ – HOU – Alejandro Fuenmayor (YC – Unsporting Behavior)

36’ – NYC – David Villa (YC – Dissent)

80’ – HOU – Alberth Elis (YC – Delaying the restart of play)

89’ – NYC – Alexander Callens (YC – Unsporting Behavior)

 

LINEUPS

 

Houston Dynamo: Joe Willis; DeMarcus Beasley, Leonardo, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Adolfo Machado; Eric Alexander (69’ Juan Cabezas), Oscar Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto (74’ Memo Rodriguez), Tomas Martinez, Alberth Elis; Mauro Manotas (81’ Luis Gil)

 

SUBS UNUSED: Chris Seitz, Adam Lundqvist, Arturo Alvarez

New York City FC: Sean Johnson; Alexander Callens, Alexander Ring, Sebastien Ibeagha; Ronald Matarrita (72’ Jesus Medina), Yangel Herrera (14’ Tommy McNamara), Ebenezer Ofori, Maxi Moralez, Anton Tinnerholm (73’ Ismael Tajouri-Shradi); David Villa, Jo Inge Berget

SUBS UNUSED: Brad Stuver, Cedric Hountondji, Ben Sweat, Rodney Wallace