HoustonDynamo.com will continue to count down the ten best Dynamo games of 2012 through Friday. With many great games to choose from, it was difficult to settle on ten, and tougher still to decide how to rank them. We will unveil one game per day, with a look back at what made the game special and include game highlights. Here is #2:
Houston Dynamo 2 : 0 Sporting Kansas City
November 4, 2012 - BBVA Compass Stadium
Eastern Conference semifinals leg 1
It was the rematch many people hoped for. The Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City met in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, a 2-0 Dynamo win at Sporting’s brand new Livestrong Sporting Park. Now, a year later, Sporting KC had the opportunity to ruin Houston’s first playoff game at its new home, BBVA Compass Stadium, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
On paper, Sporting the favorite once again, after earning the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row and finishing a full five points clear of the East’s No. 2 seed, D.C. United. Sporting also had ten more points that the Dynamo (63-53), four more wins (18-14) and conceded 14 fewer goals (41-27). Furthermore, they were rested, with ten days between their final regular season game and the first leg against the Dynamo on Nov. 4. Houston, meanwhile, had just three days of rest after a 2-1 win at Chicago in the Knockout Round.
Still, despite all of that, the Dynamo may have had a mental edge heading into the series. Beginning with the 2-0 win in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, the Dynamo were unbeaten in four consecutive games against Kansas City and allowed just one goal in the run of play in the four meetings.
Houston had also displayed an ability to play well at Livestrong Sporting Park, earning a 0-0 draw in 105-degree heat on July 7 and nearly pulling an upset on Sept. 14 before C.J. Sapong’s stoppage-time goal salvaged a 1-1 draw for Kansas City.
In fact, both teams seemed capable of gaining a result in their opponent’s stadium in this two-leg, aggregate score series. Sporting’s last regular season road loss was a 2-1 setback in Houston on July 18. Following the loss, the Eastern leaders carried a six-game road unbeaten streak to Houston for the semifinal first leg.
The showdown in Houston is No. 2 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012. It marked the fifth competitive meeting between the clubs in 12 months and the physical nature of the game made it clear to any casual observer that these teams were familiar foes.
The first 15 minutes of the game were a bit nervous for both clubs, with chances on each end, and Sporting Kansas City testing the Dynamo defense. But the game turned on a corner kick for the Dynamo in the 18th minute.
Sporting was unable to clear the corner, and then a cross from Adam Moffat was headed just outside the penalty area, where it fell near Will Bruin, who beat Kansas City players to the ball before nodding it in front of Moffat. The Glasgow native took one settling touch before he produced magic – a 35-yard laser off the half-volley that whistled into the side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Moffat later called it the best goal of his life. It was also the most important, and suddenly, the Dynamo had a 1-0 lead in a stadium in which they had never lost and an overall home unbeaten streak of 28 consecutive competitive games.
Sporting had a great chance to equalize in the 71st minute. Seth Sinovic played a ball to Graham Zusi at the top of the box, but the U.S. international steered his shot wide of the far post.
The Dynamo would grab full control of the series just four minutes later. With a seemingly innocuous throw-in just 20 yards in front of midfield, Brad Davis threw to Calen Carr. The Dynamo forward feigned that he would continue with the ball to the center before turning back toward the sideline with a single touch, slipping past defender Aurelien Collin.
The clever turn allowed Carr to race alone toward the end line, where he spotted Bruin to his right and played a sharp ball in his path. Bruin handled a difficult short hop with great poise and guided his shot toward the far corner for a 2-0 advantage.
The Dynamo earned the win with strong defending, physical play and two outstanding goals. It was the first time since July 28 – a span of 13 games – that Kansas City allowed two goals in a game.
Houston carried the two-goal lead to Kansas three days later and fought long enough to preserve the series win. Despite a 1-0 loss, they won the aggregate series 2-1, and had vanquished the East’s top seed for the second year in a row.
Return to HoustonDynamo.com on Friday for Game #1 on our list of the Top 10 Dynamo games of 2012.