The Houston Dynamo advanced to their third MLS Cup championship game in six seasons by winning the Eastern Conference championship with a 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night. Missing league MVP candidate Brad Davis after he suffered a first-half injury, Houston scored in the second half on goals from Andre Hainault and Carlo Costly and posted a second consecutive shutout to earn a fourth consecutive road victory.
The Dynamo advanced to the MLS Cup final, to be held at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Sunday, November 20. Houston will face either the LA Galaxy or Real Salt Lake; the teams play later tonight for the Western Conference championship.
The conference championship is Houston’s third, and the Dynamo are now 3-1 all-time in conference title games. The Dynamo won Western Conference championships in 2006 and 2007, both times as a No. 2 seed.
The Dynamo extended their winning streak to five games, tying a club record set in 2007 and 2009, and their unbeaten streak to nine games (7-0-2). Houston is 10-2-4 in its last 16 games, dating back to a 3-0 loss to Chivas USA on July 23. The unbeaten streak is the Dynamo’s longest since an 11-game regular-season unbeaten streak from April 19-June 20, 2009.
The Dynamo are now 9-4-3 all-time in playoff games and have won four consecutive road games for the first time in club history. Three of those four wins came by shutout.
Houston midfielder and MVP candidate Brad Davis left the game in the 39th minute with a right quad injury. The injury was a blow to Houston’s hopes and soured a night on which Davis became the first player in team history to appear in 200 games in all competitions and, in the process, became the club’s all-time minutes leader with 15,351, passing Pat Onstad’s record of 15,339. Davis was replaced by defender Jermaine Taylor, who made his first appearance since October 1.
The Dynamo took the lead in the 53rd minute when midfielder Adam Moffat, filling in for Davis on dead balls, served a curving free kick to the back post. Jermaine Taylor, who entered the game in place of Davis, headed a shot that was saved, but defender Andre Hainault reached the rebound first to score from close range. It was Hainault’s second goal of the postseason and the sixth of his Dynamo career, all in road games.
Houston limited Kansas City to just four shots on goal, most from outside the penalty area, and put the game away in the 87th minute. Midfielder Luiz Camargo found substitute forward Carlo Costly racing behind the Kansas City back line, and Costly blasted a left-footed shot that caromed in off the left post to seal the victory. The goal was Costly’s second in the last four games, both as a substitute.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall made four saves to post his second consecutive shutout and run the Dynamo’s postseason shutout streak to 263 minutes; Houston has not allowed a goal since the seventh minute of the first leg against Philadelphia on October 30. Hall now has eight shutouts on the season.
Sunday’s game was a rematch of the 2007 Western Conference championship game, also won by the Dynamo 2-0. That match was at Robertson Stadium and included Dynamo players Brian Ching and Brad Davis. Ching left that match due to injury and missed the MLS Cup final.
For Houston, defender Geoff Cameron made his 130th career appearance for the club in all competitions. Midfielder Danny Cruz set a new career high with his 17th start of the season. Midfielder Adam Moffat made his 15th start since being acquired from Portland on July 21, and he has played the full 90 minutes in each one.
The Dynamo played without forward Cam Weaver (right hip surgery).
Next Match: Sunday, November 20, 8 p.m. CT, MLS Cup Final, The Home Depot Center, Carson CA