It is starting to become a cliché on social media, but it rings true: Do not bet against the Houston Dynamo and Dominic Kinnear in the playoffs.
In their sixth trip to the playoffs in seven seasons the Dynamo booked passage to a conference championship for the fifth time. It’s a remarkable feat for a team that has developed a reputation for simple, effective soccer when it counts most.
“I think it’s just that attitude that it’s important to give everything you have, not just for yourself but for the team,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall when asked about what leads to the club’s playoff success. “I think guys do an excellent job of embodying that mentality. That’s what’s drilled into us and that’s what the Dynamo are about. It’s fun being on a team like that.”
The previous four trips to the conference finals were no surprise, as Houston was a one or two seed each time. This year, however, has offered a different challenge and a somewhat sweeter reward from a lowly five seed.
“The one thing that impresses me, especially this year, is to get to the conference final we knew it was going to be a tough road and it would be on the road,” Kinnear told the media after Wednesday’s match. “We knew when we got the fifth spot if we get to the final we’re really gonna earn it with hard work and now we’re one step closer.”
First they dispatched the Chicago Fire 2-1 at Toyota Park in the knockout round game with a composed display.
As Kinnear put it, their “unjust reward” for beating the Fire was a tough two-legged semifinal matchup against Sporting Kansas City, where they used a strong home performance to propel them past the East’s regular season best.
Houston will once again be the lower seed regardless of who wins the New York Red Bulls versus D.C. United series, with the opener at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday at 3 pm CT on NBC Sports Network.
And both those teams should beware: Houston have gone three-for-four in getting out of the conference championship and into the MLS Cup.
“It kinda takes me by surprise a bit because I don’t really look too far back into the past,” Kinnear told the media. “But five conference finals in seven years is something the team should be proud of and the coaching staff should be proud of.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com