HOUSTON – Some memories die hard, and the end of the 2009 season simply won’t go away for the Dynamo.
Houston dropped a heartbreaking 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship that year, a game marked by two strange power outages at The Home Depot Center and two goals in extra time to push the Galaxy through to the MLS Cup.
That memory is still very much in the thoughts of the Dynamo players who remain as the club faces the Galaxy again at the HDC on Sunday (9 pm ET, ESPN2/Deportes, Galavision, TSN2), this time for the chance to win the MLS Cup.
“I remember being disappointed in the disallowed goal that would have put us into the final,” striker Brian Ching said. “I thought we had a really good team that year and had a good chance to win it all. There was quite a few of us on that team … it’s still fresh in some of our minds.”
And there’s no wonder about that, considering it was one of the strangest playoff games in recent history. Not only were there two lengthy blackouts that night at the stadium in Southern California, but Andre Hainault’s second-half goal off a corner was waved off for a foul on the Dynamo.
“We scored a goal that was called back on a phantom call and we thought we should’ve been in the finals,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “I said to [Geoff Cameron] after the Kansas City game, ‘We’re going back to where we should’ve been, and let’s make sure we’re happy at the end of this game’.”
But being happy this time around will again require the Dynamo to pull out what amounts to a road victory against a Galaxy team that has not lost at home in 2011. It also will require them to venture back to a stadium that conjures tough memories of that 2009 playoff game.
“It’s still back there,” said Hainault, who scored the game-winning goal against Kansas City in this year’s Eastern Conference Championship. “Trying to push it far back there but it does come out in games like this, especially when we go back there and relive it.
“We can win this game and it’s not going to bring that game back,” he added, “but it’ll feel good nonetheless.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.