It wasn’t long ago that the questions surrounding the Houston Dynamo were not, “How far can we go in the playoffs?” but, “Can we make the postseason at all?”
Fast-forward to Sunday night, and the scene has certainly changed, with the Houston Dynamo headed to their third MLS Cup final in six years after beating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 in hostile LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
“Three months ago, I don’t think a lot of people thought we would be here at the end or close to it,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said at the postgame press conference.
In those three months, the Dynamo have undergone a number of changes, including introducing three new players and shifting others around the pitch. The result has been a nine-game unbeaten streak, culminating in Kinnear’s team overcoming adversity on its way to a convincing shutout win.
On Sunday, much of that adversity came late in the first half when Houston’s MLS MVP candidate Brad Davis went out injured – Davis told MLSsoccer.com after the game that he was “done” due to what he termed a torn quad – after an awkward play on a Graham Zusi tackle.
“I told the guys, 'Keep going, we’re playing well,” Kinnear said. “Brad wasn’t around - he was in the doctor’s room - so there was no sight of him, which I think was pretty good so the guys could focus on what we were trying to do.”
The message was received.D
Houston came out in the second half and continued to put in a masterful defensive performance, getting quality play from everyone on the back line. While the defense was busy stifling KC’s vaunted attack, the attack was starting to rev up despite missing their playmaker.
In 53rd minute, the work and resolve paid off, and on a set piece no less, when Andre Hainault converted an Adam Moffat free kick put Houston ahead. With Carlo Costly’s 87th-minute goal and the continued stifling play from the Dynamo back line and midfield putting a bow on another conference championship, Kinnear and the Dynamo are ready to prepare for another crack at an MLS Cup title.
And if any of the midseason naysayers want to come along for the ride, they’re welcome as well.
“To all those people … always remind them that November 20 there’s a game, and we’re involved,” Kinnear said. “If you want to watch it and be part of us, and hopefully get back on our good side, please do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Reach him for comment on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.