The Houston Dynamo earned the first road playoff win in club history and extended their unbeaten streak to seven games with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union Sunday night in the opening game of the teams’ two-game Eastern Conference semifinal series. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall tied a club record with 10 saves, including six in the second half, to tie a club record in support of first-half goals from Andre Hainault and Calen Carr. The 10 saves tied for the most in an MLS playoff game since Joe Cannon tied the league record by making 12 saves on Oct. 29, 2005.
The decisive second leg will be at Robertson Stadium on Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m. Houston can advance to the Eastern Conference final with a win or a tie. Houston is 5-1 all-time in home playoff games, including 3-1 in the second leg of conference semifinal series.
Houston is now 7-4-3 all-time in playoff games and 1-3-2 in road playoff matches. Philadelphia had only lost one match at home during the entire MLS regular season.
The Dynamo extended their unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) and are now 8-2-4 in their last 14 games. The unbeaten streak is the longest since an 11-game regular-season unbeaten streak from April 19-June 20, 2009. The win was Houston’s third consecutive in road matches, following away wins on Sept. 24 and Oct. 14. The three-game road winning streak is the second in Dynamo history and the first since Sept. 16-Oct. 15, 2007.
In Sunday’s game, Houston stunned Philadelphia with an early goal in the fifth minute. MLS assist champion Brad Davis bent in a free kick from the right sideline, and defender Andre Hainault headed it in at the near post. All five goals in Hainault’s MLS career have come on the road in October; he scored against Portland on October 14 and scored last October against Philadelphia.
For Davis, the assist was the fourth of his postseason career and his first since the 2007 MLS Cup final, when he assisted on the game-winning goal. In Houston’s 14 all-time playoff games, it was only the fourth time the Dynamo scored first.
The Union responded quickly, when a deflected pass by Michael Farfan fell to an open Sebastien Le Toux in the penalty area, and he finished from close range.
Houston continued to dominate play, however, with 70 percent of the possession over the first 30 minutes of the match. That spell concluded with the Dynamo taking the lead in the 30th minute when captain Brian Ching, playing in his 19th career playoff game, chipped a pass through for Calen Carr, who provided a calm, right-footed finish inside the right-hand post to give Houston the lead.
In the second half, the Dynamo withstood furious Philadelphia pressure, as the Union outshot Houston 18-4 and hit the crossbar on a Jack McInerney chance in the 88th minute. Goalkeeper Tally Hall made six saves in the second half to finish with a Dynamo-record-tying 10 for the night. Hall now has three of the four 10-save performances in Dynamo history; his others came in the 2009 U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Seattle – which went to extra time – and a 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League match at Pachuca. The only MLS match in which a Dynamo goalkeeper made 10 saves came in 2008, when Pat Onstad stopped 10 shots in a loss at New England. For Hall, the win was his 20th for Houston in all competitions, including 13 this year.
Tally Hall was one of seven players to make his playoff debut in the match; other Dynamo players making their first MLS postseason appearances were Will Bruin, Luiz Camargo, Carlo Costly, Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, and Je-Vaughn Watson. Brad Davis made his 180th career start for the Dynamo in all competitions, while Brian Ching made his 165th career appearance for Houston.
The Dynamo played without forward Cam Weaver (right hip surgery).
Next Match: Thursday, November 3, vs. Philadelphia Union, Robertson Stadium (Eastern Conference Semifinals -- Game 2)