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Contributions from everywhere help fill Davis void

The ecstasy of clinching the MLS Eastern Conference championship was tinged with sadness for the Houston Dynamo on Sunday after potentially losing MVP candidate Brad Davis for the MLS Cup final through injury.

Davis was in the process of having another influential game, setting up a few scoring opportunities and providing a steadying influence in the midfield. In the 37th minute, while sliding in to make a challenge on Graham Zusi, Davis overstretched for the ball and damaged his right quad. Davis told MLSsoccer.com after the game that he does not expect to feature in the MLS Cup final on Nov. 20 against the LA Galaxy.

“I’ve been there before, and I know the feeling, and it’s not a good one,” defender Geoff Cameron told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a fantastic player, and he’s done some great things this year. … But I think everyone responded well to it.”

Houston went on to score two second-half goals and continued its defensive effort for a second consecutive shutout. Not having Davis with them, however, was noticeable. Until Sunday night, Davis was enjoying a career year, highlighted by 18 assists – two in the playoffs – and a clean bill of health. With him on the sidelines, his teammates’ thoughts the morning after a big win were with him.

“[Seeing Brad go down] kind of took the wind out of me,” Brian Ching told MLSsoccer.com on Monday morning. “It meant so much to him and to see his hopes get dashed. … I can’t say enough about what he’s meant to this team and why we’re here, and it was devastating for all of us.”

Depth comes through
With Davis out, Houston called upon Jermaine Taylor and Corey Ashe when reshuffling the pack, with the latter proving to be a significant attacking threat for the Dynamo.

Taylor came in to play left back - his first appearance since October 1, when he replaced an injured Ashe - and fell right in line with a Houston back line that was in the process of shutting down Sporting’s potent attack. Ashe provided a spark to the midfield, bringing his trademark speed while adding some solid deliveries. Houston’s captain Ching was certainly appreciative of his teammates efforts.  

“[Jermaine’s] one of our better defenders and has got caught in the mix,” Ching said. “He’s kept his head in it when a lot of other guys would get frustrated or disillusioned. He pulled through for us when we needed, and I can’t say enough about his character. Corey’s been a rock for us all year on the left. His confidence has grown, and he’s matured in his last two years.”

Costly provides insurance
Despite being up a goal, the Dynamo were well aware of the danger Sporting posed heading down the stretch. With a track record for scoring late, the Dynamo were far from calm heading into the final stages. In the 87th minute, Carlo Costly took care of any worries, depositing an insurance goal on a breakaway from a Luiz Camargo pass, ending most of the drama on a historic night for Houston.

“I would’ve killed him if he’d missed,” Cameron said with a smile on his face. “It was the icing on the cake. It was just a feeling that, ‘Game’s over.’ We had five minutes left, and I knew we would hold it out and head to LA.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.