Major League Soccer
As the season nears its end, it's time for the annual voting of the MLS Goal and Save of the Year. Goal of the Year voting opened today and the Dynamo are represented in Group 1 with Brad Davis' game-winning strike in the inaugural match at BBVA Compass Stadium. He is joined in the first group by goals from David Beckham, Kris Boyd and Darren Mattocks.
In case you forgot how good Davis' goal was, here it is:
Quite honestly, watching that goal gives me chills and I know it does the same for so many of you. Now let's do all we can to ensure it makes it to the next round of voting!
Yesterday, we looked at important playoff games in Dynamo history that took place on October 29. Today, we do the same for October 30. Although Houston has only played one game the night before Halloween, it was an important one, as it set the tone for the Dynamo's 2011 run to the MLS Cup final:
October 30, 2011 vs. Philadelphia Union
Winning on the road has never come easy for the Dynamo and last season was no exception. The Dynamo went winless in their first 15 road matches before finishing the season with consecutive wins against Dallas and Portland away from Robertson Stadium. Having won four of their final five matches, the Dynamo entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the East, which set up a conference semifinal showdown with the Philadelphia Union.
Entering the match, the Dynamo were 0-2-2 all-time against Philadelphia and 0-3-2 all-time on the road in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Neither stat left Dynamo fans feeling confident heading into the first leg of the series at PPL Park.
The stats did not trouble the Dynamo, however, as the team jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Andre Hainault headed home a Brad Davis free kick in the fifth minute. Philadelphia responded quickly and leveled the match only two minutes later when Sebastien Le Toux broke free and placed a shot past Tally Hall.
The Dynamo would not be denied, however, and found what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 30th minute. After Brian Ching received the ball 40 yards from goal, the Dynamo's all-time leading scorer split a pair of Union defenders to find the surging Calen Carr. The Dynamo striker would not be denied as he one-touched the ball to the left of a sliding Faryd Mondragon.
Houston won the game 2-1 and won the return leg 1-0 to set up the ensuing conference final match with Sporting Kansas City.
The most recent power rankings have been released on MLSsoccer.com and with the Dynamo’s loss against Colorado Rapids, Houston remains at No. 9 on the list. Here is what the writers at MLS had to say about the Dynamo’s performance on the field.
Midway through the summer, it looked like the Dynamo were going to end up as one of the league’s top teams, losing just once in 11 games and ripping off a five-game winning streak. Since then, they’re only 3-3-4, have changed formations a couple of times and seen the goals dry up. Terrifyingly, the key may very well be Mac Kandji. When he’s on, the 4-3-3 works. When he’s not, they’re meat.
Tomorrow, the Dynamo will face the Chicago Fire, a team that MLSsoccer.com has dropped from No. 6 in their rankings to No. 8 after the Fire’s 1-1 draw against D.C. United. Below is what the writer’s had to say about the Dynamo’s upcoming opponent:
If the Fire were clinical in front of the net, they’d probably be No. 3 on this list, but the 1-1 draw vs. United highlighted a disturbing trend of wasting chances. It’s seen them post just one win in their last four, and get relegated to the Knockout Round. The good news, though, is that they get to host it, and that they’re finally fully fit.
What do you think? Have the Dynamo lost the drive they had at the beginning of the season or will they accelerate through the playoffs for a shot at the MLS Cup? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Ahead of Wednesday's playoff match with the Chicago Fire, defender Bobby Boswell was on the Rod Ryan Morning Show on 94.5 The Buzz. Check out the interview below!
Numbers don't always tell the whole story, but here are a few that help paint a picture of the Dynamo's 2012 regular season:
|0||Numbers of losses at home during the regular season|
|1||Numbers of players who were suspended for yellow card accumulation|
|1||Numbers of red cards issued to Dynamo players (all-time low)|
|5||Longest winless streak of season (happened twice)|
|5||Penalty kicks conceded|
|6||Number of players who made Dynamo debut in 2012|
|7||Penalty kicks won|
|8||Longest unbeaten streak of season (6/30-8/3)|
|12||Number of shutouts by Tally Hall (regular season record for Dynamo goalkeeper)|
|12||Number of goals by Will Bruin (most by Dynamo player since Brian Ching scored 13 in 2008)|
|12||Number of assists by Brad Davis (fourth consecutive year with 12+ assists)|
|13||Number of different goal scorers for the Dynamo|
|14||Number of regular season wins (one shy of team record)|
|48||Number of goal scored (all-time record)|
|53||Number of total points (all-time record)|
|55.93||Possession percentage (highest in the league)|
|81.53||Passing accuracy (second highest in the league)|
|88||Tally Hall's total saves|
|136||Number of corner kicks taken (fewest in the league)|
|149||Number of corner kicks conceded (sixth fewest in the league)|
|157||Number of shots on goal (eighth most in the league)|
|372||Number of fouls committed (third fewest in the league|
|377||Number of fouls suffered (third fewest in the league)|
MLSsoccer.com polled the ten managers in the playoffs to see if they preferred to play the home leg first or second or if it didn't matter. Of course, this only comes to play if you are fortunate enough to advance to the conference semifinals where it is a two-game aggregate goal series.
Here is what Dominic Kinnear had to say:
Dominic Kinnear (Houston Dynamo): "In my opinion I think it's always better to have the second game at home. I feel more comfortable having the second game at home. I think in both cases you know exactly what you need to do. I think having the fans on your side for the last 90 minutes is a plus."
October 29 has been a successful date in Dynamo history. The men in orange have played two playoff games, winning one and tying the other. Let's take a look back at those two historic matches:
October 29, 2006 vs. Chivas USA
After falling to Chivas USA 2-1 in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series, the Dynamo had their backs against the wall, as they headed back to Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo and Chivas USA had battled four times during the regular season, with the two teams splitting the series with two draws and a win a piece.
Down a goal in the series, things turned in the Dynamo's favor in the second half. Eight minutes after Chivas midfielder Juan Francisco Palencia picked up a red card, Dwayne De Rosario was taken down in the penalty box and the Dynamo were awareded a penalty kick. Brad Davis stepped up the spot and chipped it over the out-stretched arm of future national team goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
With the series apparently headed to overtime, Brian Ching out-jumped a Chivas defender to head home the winning goal to send Houston to its first Western Conference final.
October 29, 2009 at Seattle Sounders
After trading Dwayne De Rosario to Toronto FC in the off-season, the Dynamo rebounded well, finishing the regular season tied with the LA Galaxy atop the Western Conference. After losing the regular season series with LA, the Dynamo were the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, and squared off with expansion club Seattle Sounders in the conference semifinal.
As the No. 2 seed, the Dynamo went to Seattle for the first match, where the Sounders held an impressive 7-2-6 record during their inaugural season in MLS.
In a hard-fought battle, between two clubs that had met three times earlier that season, the Dynamo earned a 0-0 draw, putting them in a comfortable position heading into the return leg at Robertson Stadium. The closest either team came to scoring was in the 14th minute, when Seattle defender Pat Ianni headed a shot to the back post, and Houston midfielder Brian Mullan, guarding the post, leaped and cleared the ball off the line with a header.
The Dynamo defeated Seattle a week later at Robertson Stadium, setting up the infamous Western Conference final match with the LA Galaxy.
When the Houston Dynamo take the field on Wednesday in the Knockout Round playoff match, there will be a familiar face in the middle of the pitch. It was announced on Sunday, that Baldomero Toledo will be the center referee for the match against the Chicago Fire. Frank Anderson and Ian Anderson will patrol the sidelines, while Jorge Gonzalez will be the fourth official.
This will be the fifth Dynamo game of 2012 that Toledo has officiated. Houston is 0-1-3 in the previous four matches, including draws against the New England Revolution (5/19), Toronto FC (8/20) and Sporting Kansas City (9/14), and a loss to the Seattle Sounders (3/23).
In his career, Toledo has officiated 146 MLS games. He has averaged 25 fouls called per game and 3.4 yellow cards per game. Toledo has issued 48 red cards in his career and has given 52 penalty kicks.
In his four Dynamo games this season, Toledo has called two penalties against Houston, one in New England and one in Seattle.
At this point in the game, there is little reason to suspect fans do not know what is on the line this weekend.
Currently, the Dynamo sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, they would travel to Red Bull Arena on Wednesday for a one-game wild-card match with the New York Red Bulls.
The only way for the Dynamo to avoid the wild-card game is if the following happens:
- Dynamo defeat Colorado Rapids
- D.C. United defeats Chicago Fire
- New York ties or loses to Philadelphia Union
If any other scenario happens, the Dynamo will be playing a match Wednesday night. The only question will be whether or not that match will be in the fortress of BBVA Compass Stadium or on the road at Red Bull Arena, Toyota Park or RFK Stadium.
With that said, we encourage Dynamo fans to keep a close watch on the matches Saturday afternoon. The Red Bulls and Union kick off an NBC tripleheader at 12:30 p.m. on NBC's main channel. That will be followed by D.C. United and the Chicago Fire at 3 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. The tripleheader concludes with the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. Although that final match has no bearing on the Dynamo's playoff position, it will be interesting to watch Chris Wondolowski in his pursuit of Roy Lassiter's goal scoring record. Wondolowski needs one goal to tie Lassiter and two to take sole possession of the record.
Although much of the focus is on the Eastern Conference, few are talking about Western Conference matches that also could impact Houston. Currently, the Dynamo have 53 points. That is more than two Western Conference playoff teams; the LA Galaxy (51) and Vancouver Whitecaps (42). Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders sit on 56 points.
Now why is this important to the Dynamo? When two teams are left standing in the MLS Cup final, the team that hosts is the one that had more points in the regular season. The Dynamo could potentially have more regular season points than two Western Conference teams, and as many points as two others.
RSL hosts Vancouver Saturday night and LA hosts Seattle Sunday night. Although we are a month away from it mattering, those matches could come into play if the Dynamo make it to the MLS Cup final and host any of those four teams.
Look back on a memorable first year at BBVA Compass Stadium. Here's to a few more games in 2012...