MLS Cup playoffs Eastern Conference Championship – Leg 1

Houston Dynamo 3-1 DC United

The Houston Dynamo scored three unanswered goals in the second half to secure a 3-1 win over D.C. United in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Championship on Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium. Behind goals from Andre Hainault, Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie, the Dynamo will carry a 3-1 aggregate series lead into the final leg of the two-game series next Sunday.

The second leg is 3 p.m. CT on Sunday, Nov. 18 at RFK Stadium in Washington. The club with the better combined score in the two games will advance to MLS Cup.

The win extended Houston’s home unbeaten streak to 30 games in all competitions, dating to June 18, 2011. The Dynamo are now 8-1-0 all-time in home playoff games, outscoring opponents 18-6.

The sellout crowd of 22,101 was a BBVA Compass Stadium record.

United, winless in nine all-time road games in Houston, seized a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute. D.C. forward Lionard Pajoy broke into the penalty area and rifled a shot off the far post. The rebound carried into the path of Nick DeLeon, who found the net for a 1-0 lead.

Houston found its equalizer six minutes after halftime. With a free kick just outside the penalty area, Brad Davis quickly played a short pass to Boniek Garcia on the left side of the box. Garcia carried the ball toward the near post before sliding a pinpoint pass to Hainault, who used his left-foot from six yards to fire the ball into the roof of the net for the tying goal.

It was Hainault’s third career playoff goal to move to third on the Dynamo’s franchise list for postseason goals.

It was Garcia’s first career playoff assist and the seventh playoff assist for Davis, extending a franchise record.

Houston defender Bobby Boswell helped keep the score level in the 66th minute, clearing a goal-bound shot from Pajoy off the line with a strong header.

Dynamo substitute Giles Barnes, appearing in his first MLS playoff game, helped create Houston’s second goal just two minutes later. Barnes received a well-placed pass from Corey Ashe near the corner flag and then slipped past D.C. defender Dejan Jakovic with a clever touch along the end line. As he charged toward the near post, Barnes drove a low cross across the six-yard box, forcing a save from goalkeeper Joe Willis, but Bruin crashed into the six-yard box to bury the rebound for a 2-1 Dynamo lead.

It was Bruin’s fourth goal this postseason to set a franchise record for goals in a single postseason. It also extended Bruin’s franchise record for goals in a season to 16.

Sarkodie delivered the final goal 13 minutes later. The second-year defender combined with Luiz Camargo on a give-and-go, with Camargo playing a perfectly weighted pass to Sarkodie near the corner of the six-yard box. Sarkodie took a touch before smashing a shot into the far-side netting for his first career goal.

Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall earned his sixth career playoff win to tie Pat Onstad’s franchise record. Hall is 6-2-0 as a starter in the playoffs.

It was Brian Ching’s 25th career playoff game.

It was Boswell’s 13th playoff start with Dynamo. He is now tied with Brian Mullan and Pat Onstad for third on the franchise list.

It was Corey Ashe’s 11th career playoff game to tie Stuart Holden, Eddie Robinson and Wade Barrett for sixth on the franchise list.

Houston is now 12-6-3 all-time in the playoffs.

Next Match: Sunday, Nov. 18, 3 p.m. CT, D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo, RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. (MLS Cup playoffs Eastern Conference Championship – Leg 2)