The Houston Dynamo advanced to the championship game of the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic with a 3-2 semifinal win over Toronto FC on Thursday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Houston will face in-state rival FC Dallas in Saturday’s championship match at 7 p.m. CT in a match televised on ESPN3.com.
In Thursday’s second semifinal, the Dynamo and Toronto FC traded early goals. Jacob Peterson netted in the seventh minute to give Toronto the lead, but Houston responded in the 11th minute. Lovel Palmer floated a long, left-footed pass into the penalty area, and Geoff Cameron settled it before ripping a half-volley past Stefan Frei at the near post.
Houston almost made it 2-1 in the 12th minute when Eddie Robinson headed a Brad Davis free kick against the crossbar. Instead, Toronto re-took the lead in the 30th minute when Houston’s Andrew Hainault was judged to have taken down Jamal Gay in the penalty area, and Dwayne De Rosario converted the penalty kick for Toronto.
The Dynamo tied the game shortly before halftime in the 43rd minute when Brad Davis whipped a 19-yard free kick into the top left corner of the net.
Both teams made major changes in the second half, and Houston broke the tie in the 68th minute, when Danny Cruz took a right-wing throw-in and served a left-footed cross into the penalty area, where Cam Weaver fought his way across a defender to power a header inside the near post.
The Dynamo almost added to their lead in the 82nd minute, but Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a spectacular diving stop on a header from Houston rookie Will Bruin.
Houston held on – while using 23 of 24 eligible players – to advance to Saturday’s championship game against rival FC Dallas. The Dynamo beat Dallas 2-1 in last year’s third-place game, and Houston won the teams’ first preseason meeting 4-0 in Corpus Christi on Feb. 12.
Houston remains unbeaten in preseason play with a 5-0-2 overall record, including 4-0-2 against MLS opposition. Goalkeeper Tally Hall saw his preseason shutout streak ended at 272 minutes.
Next Preseason Game: Saturday, February 26, 7 p.m. CT, Dynamo vs. FC Dallas (Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic final), Orlando FL – ESPN3.com
MLS Opener: Saturday, March 19, 7:30 p.m., Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, Robertson Stadium, Houston