There were two facts that stuck in my mind at kickoff. 1) We were down 1-0 to NYRB with 8 seconds gone, and 2) we had only scored 2 goals in the first 15 minutes throughout this entire season. A "fast start" wasn't something we could count on.
Yet Giles Barnes and Boniek Garcia had different plans.
Storming into the box in the 13th minute, Barnes got himself into position to shoot before being dragged down by the defender. Penalty to Houston, but the referee failed to produce a red card, because... well... MLS.
OBG stepped up, and rifled a ball into the bottom right corner, just beyond the reach of a sprawling Bill Hamid. 1-0 Houston, and currently into the playoffs ahead of the Impact.
Despite seizing the advantage, Houston appeared to ease off the gas a bit, and D.C. United took full advantage.
A quick counterattack led to the goal. A lofted ball from Chris Pontius found Kyle Porter on the back post, and, significantly taller than the defending Corey Ashe, he was able to head the ball in. 1-1, and Houston once again were on the outside looking in for a playoff berth.
As the first half wore on, possession switched from side to side, and Houston finally grew into the match. DC had their chances to be sure, but it was the Dynamo who forced United onto their heels. Even still, it seemed that the brilliance of Hamid would keep this one scoreless. After stone-walling Will Bruin on a breakaway and parrying Brad Davis' second effort, the Dynamo faithful couldn't be faulted if they began to worry.
On the ensuing play, it was our old friend "set pieces" that brought us back into the lead. Davis' corner met Barnes at the front post, and his glancing header guided the ball perfectly into the back of the net. 2-1, and I am suddenly smelling the postseason.
In the second half, the Dynamo were immediately on the back foot.
Pontius had an early PK shout waved off by the referee. The real-time play looked very much like Brunner had brought down the DC United striker, but on replay the referee's call was confirmed. Still, it was becoming apparent that a 2-1 lead would neither be comfortable nor safe for the Dynamo's playoff chances.
Cam Weaver, Omar Cummings, and Servando Carrasco entered the match late, with Houston opting for the tried and true "offense is our best defense" approach. With DC United failing to play like the last place team that they are, it was a nervy final twenty minutes for the Dynamo faithful.
In the end, it was a little bit of luck, and some great defending from our midfield that saw off United's pressure late. Final score: 2-1 Houston.
Its playoff time once again for Houston. Dynamo fans will now turn their attention to Chicago and New England, whose losses later this evening would mean a 3rd seed (and no play-in match) for Houston.