After the all consternation, all the second guessing, all the doubts, the Houston Dynamo are playing for the Eastern Conference Championship on Sunday. It's mind blowing to realize that this really was a rebuilding year in Houston and despite the challenges and roster turnover, Dominic Kinnear once again has his team in a conference final, the fourth time in the team's six seasons. Shame on us for every doubting.
Last night was not the prettiest game of soccer every played and to be fair, the Dynamo's style isn't designed will aesthetics in mind. Instead, it's designed to win playoff games, tough physical games in less than idea conditions when making the key plays at the right moments make all the difference. Some may call it ugly, but chances to play for trophies and a spot in the MLS Cup Final are never ugly and all the snarky comments boil down to one thing, jealousy.
Brad Davis added another assist to his ridiculous count in 2011 (he's now up to 18), the defense earned a clean sheet in a game the Union knew they had to score a goal and Tally Hall continues to mature as a goalkeeper before our eyes. Last night was another brilliant example of how confident he's become throughout the season and why the Dynamo were right to have faith in him replacing Pat Onstad as the team's new number one keeper.
The thing that impressed me the most about the Dynamo was their efficiency in the second half at killing the game. Sitting at 3-1 on aggregate, you knew Houston would sit back and just try to burn the clock and they did just that despite the Union's attempts to get back in the match. It was some clinical soccer that might not of impressed the casual viewer but it's not always about style points.
More than just the result though is the fact that last night was a proper way to end the team's run at Robertson Stadium. For six seasons it's provided wonderful home field advantage for the team and will always hold plenty of memories for players and fans alike. Advancing to the conference final was the perfect way to say goodbye.
It's also fitting that Brian Ching scored the lone goal last night in the final match ever played at Robertson Stadium. Back in 2006, he scored the first, second, third and fourth goals in the team's inaugural match at the stadium. It puts a fitting bookends on a six-year run at the stadium and sets the stage for the Dynamo's move to their new downtown home next year...but there is business to take care of first.
A trip to LIVESTRONG Park to face the Sporting Kansas City is now set for Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm CT. As hot as the Dynamo have been down the stretch, SKC have been equally strong, so there's no doubt this is a conference final between the two best teams in the conference right now.