Dynamo hold off Sporting KC to book place in East final

The Houston Dynamo went into Wednesday night’s showdown vs. Sporting Kansas City knowing that holding their two-goal cushion wouldn’t be easy at LiveStrong Sporting Park, but some stout defending and poor finishing from KC helped the Dynamo do just that.

A Seth Sinovic header goal was the only score Sporting KC could put on the board as a night’s worth of domination wasn’t enough to erase Houston’s two goal lead. Sporting settled for a 1-0 victory, which wasn’t enough to help them avoid an abrupt elimination from the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Dynamo series victory means Houston will play in the Eastern Conference final against the winner of the New York Red Bulls-D.C. United semifinal, which will conclude tonight. The Dynamo will host the first leg of the East final on Sunday.

Houston escaped Kansas City with a series victory after defended with numbers for most of Wednesday night, a strategy that paid off on a night that saw Sporting KC miss chance after chance. Their attack was able to send in a plethora of passes into dangerous areas, but C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara failed to find the net.

Graham Zusi enjoyed an outstanding night, sending in a steady stream of promising passes, but his teammates couldn’t convert those passes into goals, save for a Sinovic header off a perfect Zusi cross.

Sporting KC looked like they might find a late equalizer, but missed on a handful of chances, and they had a penalty appeal denied after Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark appeared to take down Chance Myers in the penalty area.

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Impressed with Houston’s ability to protect a two-goal lead? Disappointed in Sporting KC’s finishing? Think the Dynamo can win the Eastern Conference final?

Share your thoughts below.

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36 Responses to Dynamo hold off Sporting KC to book place in East final

  1. Hogatroge says:

    Atrocious showing from my Dynamo, but got the (aggregate) result.

    I suppose they can’t be blamed TOO much, playing their 3rd game in 7 days with the same starting lineup away at one of the hardest places to play in MLS.

    That said, they won’t be playing for the MLS Cup at home no matter what, so they’d better work on contending those away games instead of bunkering the whole time.

    • ed houston says:

      we have played 3 games in seven days many times this season -too many. luckily our depth is the best it has ever been. we will need that week’s rest after sunday’s game.

  2. William the Terror says:

    So much for all the predictions about an SKC v. Quakes final. Playoff experience counts for a lot.

  3. Smacking says:

    Just watched the highlights. Rico was pushing his luck there at the end.

  4. The Imperative Voice says:

    That was brutal, ends-oriented tactics worthy of our Pachuca or Puntarenas games, but we got the necessary result.

    With the postponement the initial road tie will be on one fewer day’s rest for whomever joins Houston in the “semi.” We had better results against DC than NY this season (Chicago and NY were probably the worst matchups), though both teams’ GF make me nervous because if a game gets out of hand we basically lack the ability to score at will in open play. It’ll require two more games of tight, controlled, tactical soccer.

    Whoever wins the other West series needs to beat LA because I don’t like that matchup for us. Similar defensive tactical team with a little more punch. I’d rather face someone else.

  5. Kris says:

    This series boils down to this: both teams put together dominant performances in their own stadiums, but Houston finished better at home. It really is simple: KC simply cannot score, it’s gut wrenching to watch for either side.

    If you’re an SKC fan, you have to be livid about Vermes choosing not to bring on a substitution in the second half. Really, Vermes? A Dynamo team with 3 games in 8 days weighing on their legs and you don’t bring on someone fresh? I think those types of decisions are what separates Dom from Peter.

    And my my my… Graham Zusi. I just love watching this guy play, especially because of what it means from the USMNT. I had no idea Zusi had the speed to get past Corey Ashe! I mean that’s near top speed of the league, I’m talking Dane Richards fast. Compound that with his obvious skill on set piece delivery, his increasing technical ability, his vision… shall I go on? Things look bright as ever for Zusi.

    Lastly, as a Dynamo fan I surely wanted the win, but I will say this: no one, in my opinion, deserves to hold up the cup more than Kei. I miss seeing that guy in orange. He’s elite, passionate and relentless. Here’s hoping you get what you deserve someday, Kei.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Corey Ashe’s “speed” is overrated.

      • Rowsdower says:

        Definitely agree with this.. looks slower this year too. Kris, never was a big fan of Kei ( too much theatrics for my taste ) and I think Wondo deserves it more.

      • Kris says:

        Please, Imperative. His speed is what keeps him starting at LB in this league and you know it. We’ve discussed this before and we both think Creavalle is the better pick for us at LB. If anything, his defensive positioning and marking is overrated.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          I think speed is relative with the Dynamo. That you are faster than Boswell, Hainault, and Taylor does not make you exceptionally fast. I have seen him beaten for speed before and saw him beaten again last night. If Zusi can turn on a jet pack and get by you, you aren’t that fast. Hence, overrated. Kinnear may be impressed but I’m not.

          I think he’s actually a hair slower than Sarkodie on the other side, but I have the same basic issues with their defensive competence, i.e., marking, positioning, tackling. I want to see people getting more stuck in like a Taylor or Creavalle. When we play tougher teams I think the limitations start to manifest. I think Kinnear is settling at LB just like he’s settling at CM. We still manage to get far but it’s not quite DeRo, Holden, and Barrett (who played in Europe and was capped), is it?

          IMO the thing that keeps Ashe on the field is the hustle and fitness. He brings his lunchpail and runs up and down that line. Having played wingback and wing mid I’ll admit that going forward and getting back all day is nothing to sniff at. But he’s just a limited player, both him and Sarkodie (who was out of position on the Sinovic goal…..two guys marking in the center and Sinovic gets a diving header all alone back post).

    • KC Gunner says:

      Well said, Kris, & congrats on your team beating my boys. Really a shame (from my POV) that KC gave up that 2nd goal in Houston, after being so stingy all year. Extra time would’ve been fun last night.
      Regarding the subs: I agree generally, however last night, Vermes best two midfield options & other competent striker were injured (Nagamura & Cesar; Bunbury), so he really didn’t have anyone to bring on who was definitely a better option. He probably would’ve had to sub if we’d gone to ET, but I think he was comfortable fighting to the end with his Best XI avail. Speaks also to dpeth issues; but I was mighty impressed with Peterson Joseph and Oriol Rosell. Stud performances from them both.
      Going forward, KC needs a bulldog MF to replace Espinoza (gone to Wigan, surely), another fulcrum creative mid (espec if Zusi is going to keep playing wide up top), and a real top class clinical forward. Bunbury & Sapong are just too streaky to be the main scorers and Kamara wastes far too many chances. I love the guy & I’m glad we had his 11 goals, but he should have scored 20 with all the shots & chances he had. I’m not sure who exactly would fit that bill and be willing to come to KC, but we gotta have it. One crazy idea: bring back Herculez Gomez.

      • Kris says:

        Thanks, it was a fun series to watch. I get that point about the subs, especially considering depth. I just feel like someone a little more fresh might have been the spark KC needed. If I’m a coach and it’s either score or go home, I’m throwing in somebody for freshness, no doubt. And if that games goes to ET, SKC win without a hitch IMO.

        I think you have a replacement for Espinoza in Rosell. Sure he’s young and it might take another year to fully command the starting role, but that kid’s go skills. I was impressed with his play, especially considering the magnitude of the game.

        I’ve got three words for the SKC front office: STRIKER STRIKER STRIKER

        Get one. Literally just get ONE and you’re now the best team in the league on skill level across the board.

  6. Rowsdower says:

    One of the hardest games I have endured as a Dynamo fan. Ugly, ugly, ugly.. Bright side is we advance. Five conference finals in seven years. Not bad at all.

  7. JRP says:

    So, nearly everyone’s bracket has exploded. SJ and SKC are out. Remember when Ives criticized all of us who said dark horses win the MLS cup. Ives said the format had changed and that wouldn’t happen this year. Well…format didn’t change crap. Playoffs are crazy. Dark horses are pushing forward. Just hope RSL can stop LA. Cause I can’t watch Keane celebrate another goal without stabbing my eyes out. What a prick.

    • Jeremy says:

      Did you forget there was a game tonight? I wouldn’t be getting too worked up about LA just yet.

      • JRP says:

        No. I have a ticket in my wallet as I type. I just know Seattle can’t stop LA.

        • Jeremy says:

          Seattle won 2-0 and 4-0 against the Galaxy at home this year and gave up a last minute fluke goal to lose 1-0 a few weeks ago. I’m pretty sure they can stop LA.

          • Alex says:

            But LA is a team that wins when it matters and Seattle is a team that seems to only win when it doesn’t matter. I remember seeing Seattle do a lot of talking in that second home game vs. Galaxy and at the end you could see Keen talking to Alonzo (who was really running his mouth) and pointing to his head as if to say “We will remember this.” I remember thinking at that moment that if Seattle plays LA in the playoffs I think LA takes care of their business. For some reason Seattle still seems to lack maturity or fortitude or whatever it is that propels you through the playoffs. Teams like the Galaxy and Houston have it all figured out. I’m honestly not trying to hate on Seattle and I would love to see them knock off LA (if they can get by RSL which I also doubt). I just have no faith that they can see it through.

  8. Jeter says:

    Houston played poorly and still advanced against a team that finished first in the Eastern Conference. Imagine what they will do when they’re playing well? They play well at home and can win on the road as they’ve done it against Chicago earlier and against playoff teams last year (Kansas City, Portland, and Philadelphia). If Jermaine Taylor, Mac Kandji, and Calen Carr and get healthy before Sunday’s game then the Dynamo will take the Eastern Conference Title again. And I promise, they will perform well at the Final Cup game against whoever. I’d prefer it to be the Galaxy so they can send Donavan on his long awaited vacation, Beckham too, and show Omar Gonzales and Mike Magee up

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      You argue we played poorly but IMO game 2 is purposeful, if not completely effective, execution of negative strategy a la Chelsea v. Barca last year. We parked the bus in front of the net. My concerns about it are more aesthetic and strategic. Not pretty soccer and history has shown that when we try it in CCL and later MLS rounds the approach yields less, eg, two LAG playoff losses in three years. There is a point when the amount of time the opposition has to chip away, and the quality of the players they are chipping away with, exceeds our ability to defend. In one dramatic loss vs. Pachuca in CCL we went in up 2-0 from home and lost 5-4 on aggregate in OT.

      It’s a trade off that people who want to say Kinnear is a good coach have to accept. We actually play some games like last night on purpose over the course of the regular season to accumulate road points, and over the course of knockouts to try and advance.

  9. Rex says:

    SKC=Screaming Kicking and Crying

  10. gray3620 says:

    This was an ugly victory for the Orange, but we’ll take it. That is a hugh field and the Dynamo legs were really tired toward the end. I feel this year will be Corey Ashe’s last year starting. He gives the ball away too much and makes bone-head decisions. I cringe everytime he has the ball. Even his throw-ins are awful. Still, they won but I hope they play better next time.

    • H-town says:

      Ashe had a bad game, but throughout the year, acquitted himself well. He is a step slower this year. I wonder if he has played with a couple of knocks that aren’t publicized.

  11. 5280 says:

    I think Kansas City’s game showed how a passionate fan base can have negative effects on a team’s performance. SKC got too caught up in complaining to the refs about calls that they were holding up their hands and looking at the refs during the run of play and actually missed some opportunities. They’ve got to be more disciplined than that, but the fans were apoplectic during the game, and I think the players started to feed off of that. It got to a point where there would be some SKC players disputing fairly obvious out-of-bounds calls that were called correctly, but invoked the furor of the fans who weren’t in the position to see what happened but were so pitted against the refs they were going to complain about any call, right or wrong.

    • ed houston says:

      i don’t know, i though all fans do that. we did it all day in leg one. we kept booing and “HEYing” the ref at every call against us, whether it was a good call or not. it’s prob more noticeable now, in the playoffs, than the regular season because of the stakes.

    • Kris says:

      Lol say what? KC’s rabid fan base is counterproductive? I can’t agree with you on that. No matter what game or sport I’ve been to or watched the home fans always back their team up, no matter the call. Hell, that’s part of the experience. SKC’s problem isn’t their fans; it’s their finishing.

      • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

        Agreed. A rabid fan base is a good thing. Missing open nets is a bad thing (I’m lookin’ at you Mr. Sapong).

    • Ben says:

      I tend to agree that Sporting goes a bit overboard with complaining to the refs (I say this as an SKC fan), but it’s hard to me to put that on the fans. The fans’ job is to go nuts; the players’ job is to stay focused even while the fans go nuts.

      And man, I’m gonna be replaying that Sapong miss in my head all winter. If we could have pushed that game to extra time I like our chances, but we didn’t, and all credit to Houston for keeping it from happening.

  12. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    I can’t stand watching Houston play. I hope they get bounced out of the playoffs.

    • Rowsdower says:

      Five conference finals in seven years. Two MLS cups. How’s your team doing?

      • Ben says:

        Not well at the moment, obviously, but still–this was KC’s best season in eight years, and they’re young enough that you’ve gotta think the window is going to stay open for a while. Obviously we haven’t matched Houston’s success in recent years, especially in the MLS Cup playoffs, but I do think the future is bright.

    • Jeter says:

      The naturally pretty girls I use to go after were horrible in the sack. Then I noticed that the regular girls who worked hard to be fit and in shape were way better in the sack, had great figures, and didn’t mind putting in an honest days work. I’ll take a hard working regular girl over a lazy, spoon-fed pretty girl any day which is why I love the Houston Dynamo! :-)

  13. bryan says:

    Zusi will go to Russia now at least.

    • Mack says:

      Russia, Portugal, and the Dutch league would all be good fits for him i think. Possibly if he explodes onto the scene there he could possibly get a chance with either the super clubs in those leagues or a major club from another league. Although Russia and Potugugal have both had complaints in the recent past for not paying there players, and i wouldnt wish that on anyone.