After losing the edge to the team that has become their greatest international rival, Pachuca, the Houston Dynamo got the one break they needed in the second half of their biggest match of the season. On what appeared to be an innocent corner kick by Dwayne De Rosario, Craig Waibel flicked on the ball at the near post, and defender Bobby Boswell turned home the first goal of the game en route to a 2-0 win in the SuperLiga 2008 semifinals.
Boswell’s second goal of the tournament was the proverbial dagger for defending champion Pachuca, which defeated Houston on penalty kicks at the same stage of SuperLiga a year ago,after also eliminating the MLS Cup holders from the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. Corey Ashe put the game away in the 87th minute when he headed a cross from Brian Mullan into the goal between the left post and Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero.
The Dynamo advance to the SuperLiga final and will play the winner of the Atlante-New England Revolution match that will be played Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass. The final will be played Tuesday, Aug. 5 in either Houston or New England.
Before the Boswell goal, it looked like Pachuca had turned a lackluster first half of play into a dominating performance. The Tuzos had one goal by Gabriel Caballero waved off, because of offside, in the 60th minute and several spectacular chances to take a lead of their own before that.
Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who had not had to make any saves in the game to that point, made back-to-back saves in the 50th minute to set up the Dynamo win. Leobardo Lopez had a great chance after a nice 360-degree spin move, only to be stopped by Onstad. That save set up a corner kick and again it was Lopez that settled a loose ball and fired a point-blank shot into Onstad’s chest.
The Dynamo dominated the first half of play, recording at least five quality scoring chances and allowing maybe one. Just 20 seconds into the match, newly signed striker Nate Jaqua made a nifty pass through the Pachuca defense and found striker partner Brian Ching, who shot high.
In the eighth minute, it was De Rosario with the first of three scoring chances for the Canadian international. De Rosario seemed to surprise Calero and everyone else in the stadium with a sneaky shot, but he missed to the left. In the 21st minute, Brian Mullan took a pass from the top of the box and switched from his right foot to his left before sending a shot wide and to the right.
Then, in the 36th minute, De Rosario was stopped point-blank by Calero in what was the save of the match to that point. Ricardo Clark sent a pass to De Rosario from midfield and the uncovered striker took the ball and ran toward the net with fellow forwards Jaqua and Ching creating a three-on-one for the Orange. Arguably, Ching looked to be the better option on the play, but De Rosario fired a shot on goal, and Calero made the save to keep the game scoreless.
Onstad was hardly tested in the opening 45 minutes, but Pachuca got better as the match progressed from start to finish. Yet the Dynamo got the goals they needed to put them on the verge of a first international honor for an MLS club in nearly a decade.
Pachuca featured an injury-free lineup Tuesday night, while the Dynamo had to make do without Richard Mulrooney (knee swelling) and Eddie Robinson (hamstring).
Pachuca vs. Houston Dynamo
July 29, 2008 -- Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
SuperLiga -- Semifinals
HOU -- Bobby Boswell 2 (Craig Waibel 1, Dwayne De Rosario 2) 77
HOU -- Corey Ashe 1 (Brian Mullan 2) 87
Pachuca -- Miguel Calero, Carlos Rodriguez (Luis Montes 70), Leobardo Lopez, Julio Manzur, Fausto Pinto, Juan Rojas, Jaime Correa, Gabriel Caballero (Paul Aguilar 72), Damian Alvarez, Jose Torres (Jose Maria Cardenas 83), Bruno Marioni.
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
Houston Dynamo -- Pat Onstad, Craig Waibel, Bobby Boswell, Wade Barrett, Brian Mullan, Geoff Cameron, Ricardo Clark, Dwayne De Rosario (Chris Wondolowski 92+), Brad Davis (Corey Ashe 62), Brian Ching, Nate Jaqua (Kei Kamara 68).
Substitutes Not Used: unavailable.
PAC -- Jose Torres (caution) 32
PAC -- Leobardo Lopez (caution) 33
HOU -- Ricardo Clark (caution) 36
PAC -- Damian Alvarez (caution) 86
PAC -- Bruno Marioni (caution) 90
PAC -- Paul Aguilar (caution) 94+
Referee: Neil Brizan (T&T)
Referee's Assistants: Darren Clark (CAN); Hector Vergara (CAN)
4th official: Baldomero Toledo
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial