Morelia traveled to Houston and secured a 1-0 semifinal victory against the Dynamo in a spirited battle Thursday night to secure a spot in the SuperLiga final.
Morelia had several opportunities to get out to an early lead, but forward Miguel Sabah failed to convert any of the chances. In the 14th minute, after a Brian Mullan turnover, the ball quickly found Sabah just inside the penalty spot, but his effort went over the bar.
Four minutes from the half, a deflection found its way to Sabah again near the spot as he calmly cut the ball back to beat his defender. However, his effort on goal was saved well by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to keep Morelia off the board.
Houston’s best chance in the first half came in injury time. Andrew Hainault picked off a pass and quickly fed Brian Mullan on the wing. Mullan’s cross was on target, and forward Cam Weaver beat two Morelia defenders to the ball, but his header deflected off the post as the half ended 0-0.
Sabah made up for the early misses out of the gate in the second half. In the 47th minute, Rafael Márquez Lugo chipped the ball over the Dynamo defense and into the path of an onrushing Sabah, who calmly chipped the ball over Hall. Defender Bobby Boswell made a valiant run to try to clear the chip, but he could not catch up to the ball, and Morelia took a 1-0 lead.
To jumpstart Houston’s offense, with Brian Ching already in the game as a halftime sub, head coach Dominic Kinnear brought on Richard Mulrooney and Geoff Cameron in hopes of netting the equalizer. Cameron was making his first appearance since April 24, when he ruptured his right PCL against the Chicago Fire and was initially ruled out for the season, then for four months.
The game turned slightly sour in the 77th minute when Mulrooney was clearing the ball near the sideline and was checked into the turf by Jaime Lozano, clearly retaliation for what Lozano felt was a foul by Eddie Robinson. Dynamo defender Mike Chabala took offense to the cheap shot and a shoving match ensued, and both Lozano and Chabala were shown yellow cards.
Houston had several dangerous chances late off of corner kicks and set pieces and was unlucky not to be awarded two penalties late. On one corner kick, Brian Ching was put in a headlock, but the official did not call a foul.
Then, late in the match, Cameron slipped the ball into Ching behind the Morelia defense. The forward, however, was dragged down by Adrian Aldrete, who received his second yellow and was sent off for a foul just outside the penalty box.
Houston’s best chance came in the game’s final seconds. Ching connected with Lovel Palmer near the top of the box, but Palmer’s left-footed shot was deflected inches wide. One last corner kick was caught by Morelia's Federico Vilar as time ran out.
With the win, Morelia now go on to face the New England Revolution in the SuperLiga final at Gillette Stadium. Houston returns to MLS play on Sunday, when the Dynamo travel to Western Conference foe Seattle.
Monarcas Morelia vs. Houston Dynamo
August 5, 2010 -- Robertson Stadium
MOR -- Miguel Sabah 2 (Rafael Marquez Lugo 1) 47
Monarcas Morelia -- Federico Vilar, Luis Silva, Mauricio Romero, Enrique Perez, Adrian Aldrete, Aldo Ramirez (Elias Hernandez 46), Hugo Droguett, Luis Noriega, Jaime Lozano (Miguel Sansores 86), Rafael Marquez Lugo (Adrian Garcia 87), Miguel Sabah (Luis Gabriel Rey 59).
Substitutes Not Used: Jose Cruzalta, Rodolfo Vilchis, Jesus Urbina.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Ryan Cochrane (Eddie Robinson 46), Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan (Geoff Cameron 71), Lovel Palmer, Anthony Obodai (Richard Mulrooney 71), Corey Ashe, Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 46), Dominic Oduro.
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Davis, Francisco Navas Cobo, Tyler Deric.
HOU -- Brian Mullan (caution; Reckless Foul) 57
MOR -- Hugo Droguett (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 61
MOR -- Adrian Aldrete (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
MOR -- Jaime Lozano (caution; Reckless Foul) 78
HOU -- Mike Chabala (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 78
MOR -- Adrian Aldrete (ejection; Second Caution) 93+
HOU -- Corey Ashe (caution; Dissent) 96+
Referee: Walter Quesada (CRC)
Referee's Assistants: Osvaldo Luna (CRC); Marvin Ramirez (CRC)
4th official: Jair Marrufo
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial