HOUSTON DYNAMO v D.C. UNITED
Sun., Nov. 11, BBVA Compass Stadium (3 p.m. CT; NBC SN; UDN; RDS2)
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar.
SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski;
4th: Geoff Gamble
- HOUSTON DYNAMO -- QUESTIONABLE: MF Rico Clark (L adductor strain); FW Calen Carr (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Jermaine Taylor (L knee sprain)
- D.C. UNITED -- OUT: FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); PROBABLE: DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); FW Long Tan (L ankle sprain); MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain)
- DC: Andy Najar (through Nov. 18); Bill Hamid (through Nov. 11)
- HOU: none
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card):
- HOU: Corey Ashe, Calen Carr, Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie
- DC: Andy Najar, Lionard Pajoy
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 BBVA COMPASS STADIUM:
5/12: HOU 1, DC 0 (Davis 67)
7/15: HOU 4, DC 0 (Davis 19; Bruin 37; Garcia 62; Ching 89)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting
PREVIEW Davis, Bruin looking for goals at home
- For the fifth time in their seven-year history in Houston, the Dynamo have advanced to the conference championship. Three times they've won to advance to MLS Cup.
- "To get rewarded for beating Chicago with playing Sporting Kansas City is kind of an unjust reward, but it is a reward,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “But five conference finals in seven years is definitely something that a team should be proud of. The coaching staff and players should be proud.”
- With center back Jermaine Taylor sidelined with a knee sprain, Andre Hainault stepped into central defense, making his first start since Sept. 23. "If Jermaine wasn’t ready to play, we knew Andre could step in and play well and that’s what he did,” Kinnear said. “ ... He attacked the ball great, he reads the play well and he was good in the air," Kinnear said. "And he is not afraid to throw his body in front of things."
- There is an injury concern for the Dynamo after Calen Carr was forced off the field with an injury in the first half. "He has a strained hamstring,” Kinnear said. “... Getting this game moved back to Sunday is a benefit for us because we’re pretty banged up and that extra day is going to help us recover for Sunday.”
- The Dynamo will have one more home game in their bid to complete the entire season undefeated over all competitions in home games, still to lose a competitive match at BBVA Compass Stadium. If the Dynamo win the Eastern Conference Championship, they will play MLS Cup 2012 on the road, regardless of the opponent.
- "We will take the first home game and keep the same mentality and come out strong in our first home game and then we will think about the next round on the road," said Cam Weaver. Said Kinnear: "The one thing that really impresses me is that this year we knew it was going to be a tough road to get to the conference final and it was going to be on the road."
- Every one of the Dynamo's last five playoff defeats have come as they've been shut out. “The back four and Tally [Hall] -- we relied on them a lot and lucky for us it was enough to get us through to the next round,” Kinnear said. “... 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.”
PREVIEW United embracing underdog role
- United have returned to the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time in six years, as they look to return to MLS Cup for the first time since 2004. “We’ve had a little luck along the way, but who hasn’t?” United head coach Ben Olsen said. “You need that and I just think we’ve got some guys with good character. You start to add enough guys up with character and things tend to go right for them.”
- United still have yet to lose since a knee injury sidelined Dwayne De Rosario -- now listed as probable on the team's injury report. D.C. is 6-0-3 since his injury. "When the chips are down there is a certain spirit about them, it has nothing to do with me, these guys have just come together by themselves - in particular in the absence of Dwayne," Olsen said. "They gelled and they believed and sometimes belief is enough."
- Joe Willis became the first United goalkeeper to save a penalty kick in the club's playoff history, getting the second chance after the first was waved off. "I was OK with him going in that position for sure. It’s a known situation for a goalkeeper, you are coming off the bench, you are not expecting to save it and he gets a look at it, which is always tough," said Olsen. "We saw that before in Philadelphia, ironically and I thought ... it was a big call, but it was the right call."
- United opened the Dynamo's new stadium on May 12, suffering a 1-0 defeat. Then in July, Bill Hamid was sent off with a straight red card early in the first half and United lost 4-0. "It’s a short turnaround, a little shorter than they had which is unfortunate, but Houston’s a tough place to go get a result and we need a result there," said Chris Pontius.
- With Andy Najar suspended after being sent off in the first leg, United were also without Chris Korb for the return match in New Jersey. Lewis Neal -- nominally a midfielder -- came in at left back, while Robbie Russell made his first start in an MLS match since July 15 at right back and set up the winning goal.
- “I came down the right side and my guy didn’t come with me,” Russell said. “Lio [Pajoy] had a great ball across. I saw the whole defense shifting this way. Nicky made a great run and an amazing finish. It was a perfect time to score.”