Preview: United way down in a hole as Dynamo eye East title

EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP - SECOND LEG
D.C. UNITED v HOUSTON DYNAMO
Sun., Nov. 18, RFK Memorial Stadium (4 p.m. ET; NBC SN; UDN)
 
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD:
HOU 9 wins, 27 goals … DC 4 wins, 15 goals … Ties 2
 
2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD: HOU 2 wins, 7 GF … DC 1 win, 3 GF … 0 ties
 
AT RFK STADIUM:
4/28: DC 3, HOU 2 (Santos 11, 70; De Rosario 54 - Bruin 50, 59)
 
 
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: HOU 1 win, 3 GF … DC 0 wins, 1 GF … 0 ties
 
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo.
SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker;
4th: Matthew Foerster
 
INJURY REPORT:
D.C. UNITED -- OUT: FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); QUESTIONABLE: MF Chris Pontius (R groin strain); MF Marcelo Saragosa (R knee pain); DF Brandon McDonald (R calf spasms); PROBABLE: DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); FW Long Tan (L ankle sprain); MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain)
HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: MF Adam Moffat (concussion/chest injury); QUESTIONABLE: MF Rico Clark (L adductor strain); FW Calen Carr (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Jermaine Taylor (L knee sprain)
 
SUSPENDED: DC: Andy Najar (through Nov. 18)
 
D.C. UNITED
The return to fitness of a number of United regulars is the big question heading into the second leg. Leading scorer Chris Pontius is the biggest question mark after he was forced off after just 12 minutes with a groin injury.
“We were questioning whether I should play,” Pontius said. “I woke up, felt good, went out in the warmups, took shots and felt good, so we went along with it.”

Sunday, Nov. 18 on NBC Sports Network

Midfielder Marcelo Saragosa and defender Brandon McDonald were also forced off as United head coach Ben Olsen used all three substitutes before the hour. “It’ll be an interesting game going back to D.C.,” Olsen said. “We get to rest, they get to rest. You’re talking about two different teams when they’re healthy.”
There is a chance Dwayne De Rosario, who has been out since Sept. 11 with a knee injury, could be ready to return for the second leg. “He’s a lot further along than I think we would have expected,” assistant coach Chad Ashton said. “I think we’re very optimistic he could play. ... Limited minutes, for sure.” Said De Rosario: “I feel all right. It’s day-to-day ... Hopefully I could transpire my words into actions if I get the chance. That’ll be the goal.”
With Bill Hamid suspended after being sent off in the second leg of the semifinal series vs. New York, Joe Willis made his first playoff start. “We had a lot of energy and then a few things didn’t go our way and all of a sudden we’ve got to make three subs for injuries,” Willis said. “A couple goals later, and it’s almost like we didn’t know what happened.”
United were also missing Andy Najar for a second match through suspension after a ruling from the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Chris Korb played left back after missing the second New York match with a hamstring injury.
“We did everything we can to prepare, we just let in some weak goals,” said Nick DeLeon. “We tuned out and they capitalized and that was that. They’re problems that we can fix and we’ll take care of that for the next game.”
After not making a league appearance following his acquisition, Raphael Augusto came on as an early substitute. "It’s the first game he’s ever come in for us and he had some moments. He definitely makes the play that should change the entire course of this series, but it didn’t," Olsen said.
 
HOUSTON DYNAMO
Like their opponents, the Dynamo were hit by injury in the first leg. Andre Hainault stepped in again at center back for Jermaine Taylor (knee sprain) and Luiz Camargo came into the midfield for Ricardo Clark (groin strain). Giles Barnes then came on for the injured Adam Moffat.
“They played like men,” Boswell said. “Credit to all of the guys that came on and did their job. That’s what the coaches asked of them and they have done quite well to keep that going.”

PREVIEW: DC still getting healthy

The introduction of Barnes brought on a tactical shift, and the Dynamo responded with three goals. "With Giles [Barnes] going in, we had to change our formation a little bit and push Brad [Davis] into the midfield and put Mac [Kandji] wide and I thought Mac had a good game," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear.
Will Bruin scored his fourth goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs this season. “He has four goals in four games. I think the one thing with Will is that even though he wasn’t scoring goals at a particular time in the season, he was still getting chances. ... I think his effort and his willingness to work for the team, and he still gets on the end of stuff because of his hard work, it’s hard to do anything but play him," said Kinnear.
Bruin also has seven goals in in six matches against D.C. United in league and cup play. “I think it’s just matchups,” Bobby Boswell said. “Great credit to him to get that goal. It’s a goalscorer’s goal and if he keeps scoring against D.C., I’ll take it.”
Making his 11th consecutive start over the end of the regular season and the playoffs, Kofi Sarkodie scored his first playoff goal. “The kid’s battled ever since he’s gotten the chance to play,” Corey Ashe said. “I was really happy for him. It was a good finish and it was a good ball by Luiz [Camargo]. It was definitely what we needed, that’s for sure.”
Moffat was listed as out on the club's injury report to start the week, but could return for the second leg. “It’s a head injury so there’s protocol to follow and procedures and stuff," said Moffat. "So far everything’s been good. The stuff we’ve done so far has been great. If it keeps going I’d love to get out there but we just need to see how it progresses.”