New York Red Bulls 1-2 Houston Dynamo

Omar Cummings scored 14 minutes into extra time and the Houston Dynamo advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship with a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night at Red Bulls Arena. Combined with Sunday’s 2-2 draw in the first leg, the Dynamo won the aggregate series 4-3 to advance to their third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship and sixth conference championship in eight years.

The Dynamo will host Sporting Kansas City in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT at BBVA Compass Stadium. Sporting Kansas City advanced with a 4-3 aggregate series win over the New England Revolution.

The Dynamo and Red Bulls were tied 1-1 on the night and 3-3 in the aggregate series at the end of 90 minutes. In the first of two 15-minute periods of extra time, Houston seized its first lead of the series in the 104th minute. Boniek Garcia lofted a well-weighted pass behind the New York defense and Kofi Sarkodie delivered a pinpoint cross from the endline to Cam Weaver, who headed the ball across the six-yard box. Cummings fought between two Red Bull defenders to slip a shot inside the near post for the series-winning goal.

It was Cummings’ second goal of the series after he scored the equalizing goal in stoppage time on Sunday. It was his third career MLS Cup Playoff goal.
It was Weaver’s first career playoff assist as the Dynamo substitutes combined to score the vital goal. It was also Sarkodie’s first career playoff assist.

Houston fell behind in the 23rd minute when goalkeeper Tally Hall mishandled a cross and New York forward Bradley Wright-Phillips collected the loose ball and finished from close range.

The goal gave the Red Bulls a 1-0 lead in the game and 3-2 lead in the series.

The Dynamo responded 13 minutes later. Brad Davis intercepted a pass from New York defender Ibrahim Sekagya on the edge of the penalty area and calmly slotted a shot inside the left post for the tying goal.

It was Davis’ third career playoff goal (and first since 2007) to tie Andre Hainault for third on the franchise list.

Hall compensated for his rare mistake with several important saves, including a great reaction stop in the 44th minute when Thierry Henry sent a volley toward goal and Tim Cahill used a deft touch to redirect the hard shot toward the side of the net.

The clubs went to halftime tied 1-1 on the night and 3-3 in the series.

Henry threatened again in the 65th minute, heading a long throw-in off the cross bar.

Ten minutes later, the French forward came close once again, settling a long, flighted ball before switching feet and firing a left-footed shot past the upper corner.

Hall made another important save three minutes later. Cahill met a long cross with a strong header that bounced off the forehead of Dynamo forward Giles Barnes and was goal-bound before Hall reacted quickly again, diving to his right to keep the score level.

Hall met Henry again in the 90th minute. Henry struck a bicycle kick from 12 yards that was kept out by Hall at the far post.

In all, Hall made eight saves to improve to 8-3-2 in the playoffs in his career.

Wednesday’s 2-1 triumph was Houston’s first-ever road win against New York. The Dynamo were 0-6-4 in ten previous road games (including playoffs).

After Saturday’s first leg in Houston, the second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship is Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m. CT at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

The Dynamo are 4-1 all-time in conference championships, with victories in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012.

The 2013 Eastern Conference Championship marks the third straight season Houston and Sporting Kansas City have met in the playoffs. The Dynamo secured a 2-0 single-leg win in the 2011 Eastern Conference Championship before registering a 2-1 aggregate series victory in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Dynamo are now 14-4 all-time in playoff series (includes one-game playoffs).

New York took the lead in the 23rd minute. Lloyd Sam’s cross into the six-yard box was fumbled by goalkeeper Tally Hall. Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips was the first to the ball and slid it home.

However, the Dynamo tied the contest 13 minutes later. An errant pass in New York’s defensive end was intercepted by Brad Davis. Davis was able to control the ball and the Houston captain curled it past New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.

Hall recovered from his early mistake for the rest of the match and made a terrific save moments before the half. Another Sam cross was redirected towards goal by Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill then got a foot on the attempt. The Dynamo goalkeeper, however, was able to react quickly enough to paw away the on-target effort.

The Red Bulls had the majority of chances throughout the game (outshooting Houston 23-9) and were inches away from going ahead again 20 minutes into the second half, as Henry got a free header from eight yards and flicked it over Hall and off the crossbar. Soon after, Henry’s cross was nodded by Cahill straight to Hall.

Henry again had another chance in the 74th minute, controlling a Jonny Steele long ball and curling it just wide with his left foot. Houston’s Giles Barnes almost headed it into his own net later, but Hall made another spectacular stop to prevent the own goal. Hall was also able to get a piece on Henry’s audacious bicycle kick try in second half stoppage time as the teams went to extra time.

Cummings scored the eventual game-winning goal in the first 15-minute half of extra time. Kofi Sarkodie’s cross was headed down by Cam Weaver and Cummings was able to get enough power on his shot to fire it over the line before Robles was able to sweep it out.

Scoring Summary:

NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips 1 (unassisted) 23’
HOU: Brad Davis 1 (unassisted) 36’
HOU: Omar Cummings 2 (Cam Weaver 1, Kofi Sarkodie 1) 104’

Houston is now 5-6-4 all-time in road playoff games.

The Dynamo are 4-1 all-time in playoff games that reached extra time, including the 2006 MLS Cup Final (vs. New England), the 2007 Western Conference Semifinal (vs. FC Dallas) and 2009 Western Conference Semifinal (vs. Seattle).

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