Houston Dynamo clinch berth in 2012 MLS Cup playoffs
The Houston Dynamo clinched a berth in the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Macoumba Kandji, Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis each scored for the Dynamo to ensure the Dynamo reach the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons in Houston.
The win in the regular season home finale, in front of the ninth sellout crowd of the season, completed an undefeated home schedule for the Dynamo. Houston went 11-0-6 at BBVA Compass Stadium to become the fourth team in Major League Soccer history to complete a home schedule without defeat. The victory also extended the clubs home unbeaten streak to 25 regular season games. It is the second-longest streak in league history after Real Salt Lake, which set the record at 29 games between 2009 and 2011.
Houston is 14-8-11 (53 points) and remains in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with one regular season game remaining. The Dynamos seed in the playoffs will be determined next Saturday, when the club plays its final regular season game at the Colorado Rapids. The Dynamo could enter the playoffs as the 3, 4 or 5 seed, depending on the results of the New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire in their games next Saturday.
Kandji handed Houston an early 1-0 lead with a goal in the fifth minute. Adam Moffat lobbed a pass behind Kandji, and Philadelphias Carlos Valdes attempted to clear the ball, but Kandji poked the ball away and carried it into the box before slotting home his fourth goal of the season.
With the goal, Kandji matched a career-high for goals in a season, set in 2009 with New York.
The Unions Jack McInerney seized the equalizer 14 minutes later, heading a cross from Sheanon Williams into the side of the net for his eighth goal of the year.
The game-winner arrived for Houston in the 71st minute. Goalkeeper Tally Hall rolled the ball from the top of his box to Davis, who quickly fed Brian Ching at the center circle. Ching carried the ball for 30 yards before feeding Garcia near the edge of the penalty area. The Honduran took a touch before curling a strong shot into the side of the net for the vital goal.
It was Garcias fourth goal since joining the Dynamo in June. It was Chings fifth assist of the season, matching a career-high, set in 2008 and 2005.
Four minutes later, Ching helped create another goal. The substitute lofted a ball to Will Bruin in behind the Union defense, and Bruin was tackled in the box by Valdes as he tried a left-footed shot. The Dynamo were awarded a penalty, and Davis converted the spot kick for his eight goal of the season, extending his career-high.
Saturday was the 200th Dynamo appearance in all competitions for Corey Ashe and Ching. They are the only players other than Davis to reach 200 appearances with the Dynamo.
It was also Bobby Boswells 225th career regular season game and his 183rd game with the Dynamo in all competitions to tie Brian Mullan for fourth on the clubs franchise list.
The Dynamo complete their four-game homestand on Tuesday, as they face C.D. Olimpia of Honduras in the final game of CONCACAF Champions League group play. With a win or a draw, the Dynamo will advance to the quarterfinals, set for March 2013.