Following Vancouver’s 5-0 thrashing of San Jose on Wednesday, Houston and SKC prepared for a much tighter game, one that was sent into overtime. The Dynamo pushed hard and overcame Sporting in the additional 30 minutes and put the game away 1-0, thanks to Vincente Sanchez’s efforts to set up Alberth Elis for the finish early in the first half of overtime.
Portland, who finished first in the Western Conference with 53 points, secured themselves a bye in the first round. So now, after waiting over a week to play in the Semifinal, they’re going to come out prepared and ready to win. However Houston still holds their strong form at home, and can hopefully use that and take it into Leg 2.
The Dynamo lost another defender early in the match, for the second game in a row, with center back Leonardo picking up an injury. Leonardo was a silent hero for the Orange in the regular season, however solid form has been found in Anibaba and Senderos, who’ve been making up for losses in Leo and Delegarza.
The most worrying stat for Houston though, will be that Senderos, Machado, Clark, Quioto, and Elis are all on the verge of suspension after their next yellow card. These five players will all most likely be key starters from here-on-out, so staying composed unlike in the matchup against SKC will be essential to a successful run in playoffs. Meanwhile, there is slightly better news in that Portland’s main striker Fanendo Adi is questionable with a hamstring issue.
The two teams met twice in the season, where the Timbers won their home leg 4-2, and the matchup at BBVA Compass ended in a 2-2 draw. Although the score might not show it, Houston fought well and hard in that 4-2 loss, and even led 2-1 at halftime after going down early. Portland have been dominant leading into the offseason, but so have the Dynamo, so expect a close match.
The game kicks off at 8:30 pm CT on Monday.