It was not the way they envisioned it happening, but the Houston Dynamo are headed back to the Eastern Conference finals.
This week Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear talked about wanting to stay away from the “park the bus” style and keep Wednesday’s second leg at Sporting KC nice and even. The hosts were having none of it, though, putting Houston under pressure for 90 minutes and making them sweat for every clearance.
In the end, it was enough as Houston held on for a 2-1 aggregate win - losing 1-0 on the night - to move on to the conference finals for the fifth time in seven years.
“The back four and Tally [Hall] we relied on them a lot tonight and lucky for us it was enough to get us through to the next round,” Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “You want to play. You want to go on the field and get chances. We had a couple of chances in the first half to get possession and get a hold of the game but our passing game was off tonight.
“Our defending was very disciplined. In order to get out of the series you have to be disciplined with your defending and be honest and the guys were definitely that.”
Led by center backs Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault – who stepped into the starting XI for the injured Jermaine Taylor – the Dynamo defense were on the spot with deflections and pressure to keep Kansas City from gaining the series lead.
However, things got close when Seth Sinovic pulled KC to within one in the 64th minute.
“The game didn’t really change too much [after Sinovic’s goal],” Kinnear said. “They kept on attacking and we kept on defending. We knew that as the game went on they were going to keep pumping the ball forward and keep throwing guys forward. [The team] never panicked, which is good.”
Houston did get a few looks in the game. Will Bruin and Brad Davis had early chances and the club had a few counters dissipate late between Cam Weaver and Luiz Camargo.
Regardless, the end result was positive, even if the style of play made the game more unsettling than anyone wearing orange would have liked.
“You want the clock to move faster,” the Dynamo boss said about his thoughts during the match. “You want to play up the field a little bit. You don’t want to sit back and defend, defend but you have to give them credit because they made it difficult for us. Over the 180 minutes the two goals at home were enough to carry us through.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.