Even Peter Vermes knew the Sporks chances were hopeless. The expression on his face at the beginning of the game tells the whole story. "We need more time." - Jamie Squire
The Houston Dynamo entered Wednesday night's match against Sporting Kansas City with a two goal aggregate lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They knew what they had to do to survive. It took everyone and everything, but survive they did. Dynamo Theory examines the game as only Dynamo Theory can.
Is it possible to win by losing? We have certainly had our fair share of losses this season, not to mention draws, but no loss defined the Dynamo so clearly as did the one they sustained at Live Strong Park against Sporting Kansas City. In every facet, in every way, the Sporks dominated the Houston Dynamo.
Attempts on Goal: SKC - 20, Dynamo - 3
Corner Kicks: SKC - 5, Dynamo - 0
Open Play Crosses: SKC - 31, Dynamo - 1
Duels Won: SKC - 72, Dynamo - 58
Total Passes: SKC - 610, Dynamo - 240
Possession: SKC - 71.4%, Dynamo - 28.6%
It's plain to see the Dynamo were outmanned, outhustled, outgunned, outmaneuvered, out-pressured...just plain outplayed by Sporting KC. Yet even in the midst of the constant pressure, the constant deluge of shots and crosses and headers and saves, the team remained calm. They did not let the pressure of Sporting KC or the pressure of the moment deter them from their game plan.
Was it a sound game plan? Not in my mind, no. Yet, it worked. The Dynamo went into Live Strong Park and while they lost, they were ultimately the triumphant victors. The team knew what had to be done. They knew what was necessary to leave Live Strong Park with another two games, at the least, left to play. They knew what was necessary to survive.
Survival was the key to this game, the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It has been the key to the entire Houston Dynamo season. Game after game, we watched a team survive time and time again. How many times did we see the team down a goal only to scrape together a last few minutes of glory?
Yes, it is exactly as it has always been. Domination by attrition. We will outlast you. We will beat you mentally, beat you physically. You will submit. You will quit. You will give up. You will ask for mercy. We will survive, and you will not.
There is no coach in MLS who has the same ability as Dominic Kinnear to prepare his players for the playoffs. An entire season passes, and as seems to be the norm now, the Dynamo find a way in. And then good ol' Dom flips the switch. He green lights the players, the team. They find ways to make magic happen.
And while Sporting Kansas City definitely got theirs last night, ultimately, the Houston Dynamo got more. Sporks nabbed a goal in the 64th minute off a beautiful cross from Graham Zusi which found the diving head of Seth Sinovic. That, however, would be the only time the ball would find a place inside the net behind the brick wall known as Talmon Hall.
Doubtless in my mind is the Man of the Match. Saves abounded, and Tally was constantly having to make them.Make them he did, and as a result, when the final whistle had blown, the Dynamo parked their way into the Eastern Conference Finals.
The first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals is scheduled in Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium for Sunday, November 11th at 3:30PM CST. But such a day and time requires the weather in New York to offer a chance for NYRB and DCU to play out the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Either way, either team, the Dynamo will gladly welcome the rest. It has been a grueling last couple of weeks, and one extra day can mean the difference between MLS Cup Finals and going home.
Yes, Dynamo Theory faithful, it is entirely possible to win by losing. #NOODLETIME