HOUSTON DYNAMO v NEW YORK RED BULLS
Sun., Nov. 3, BBVA Compass Stadium
3:30 pm ET; NBC; RDS2[TD]
The Supporters' Shield winner begin their quest for MLS Cup against a team they've had real success against when the New York Red Bulls travel to take on the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series on Sunday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Red Bulls have won all three league meetings vs. Houston -- including two in the Bayou City -- and also won in Houston in their only postseason meeting there five years ago. The Dynamo began their MLS Cup Playoffs run at midweek, rolling to a 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact in the Knockout Round.
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar.
AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker;
SUSPENDED: HOU: Dominic Kinnear (head coach; through Nov. 3)
WARNINGS: HOU: Corey Ashe (suspended next yellow card)
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: HOU 0 wins, 1 GF ... NY 3 wins, 9 GF ... Ties 0
2013 HEAD-TO-HEAD: HOU 0 wins, 1 GF ... NY 3 wins, 9 GF ... Ties 0
AT BBVA COMPASS STADIUM:
9/8: HOU 1, NY 4 (Johnson 18 ñ Alexander 14; Henry 47; Steele 58; Sam 88)
10/20: HOU 0, NY 3 (Cahill 1, Sekagya 65, Wright-Phillips 75)
- The Dynamo opened the MLS Cup Playoffs winless in their two matches at BBVA Compass Stadium, and not having scored a goal in 263 minutes at home. But as they did with the last goal they did score in Houston -- a sixth-minute goal in a 1-0 win vs. Montreal on Oct. 4 -- they again started off quickly.
- "We know we can score goals," said forward Will Bruin. "When they come, they'll come in bunches. We know what we're capable of doing. I think the attack's going to be good. Once we start clicking on all cylinders we're going to be a tough team to play."
- Bruin scored two goals in a playoff game for the second time in his MLS career -- the first coming in last year's Knockout Round victory at the Chicago Fire that propelled the Dynamo to a second consecutive MLS Cup. Bruin now has six goals in 11 career playoff matches (seven as a starter).
- "I thought Will Bruin was excellent tonight," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "It's great to see him scoring goals. I think he enjoyed it a lot after getting knocked down all night."
- Said fullback Corey Ashe: "Will knows we have confidence in him, regardless of what people say. People are going to love you and they're going to hate you but we know what he's capable of. He has a lot of confidence in himself. . . . You need a guy to build that confidence and get hot around playoff time."
- With Jermaine Taylor out for the remainder of the playoff with a fracture in his left foot, as expected Eric Brunner slotted into central defense -- and the Dynamo kept a clean sheet.
- "He knows what he's got to do and as a unit we know what we have to do," said Bobby Boswell. "It's not about one guy ó there's going to be guys in and out of all teams. So how can you adjust? ... I've played with him in CONCACAF games, Open Cup games, things like that so it's not like this is going to be our first test."
- Boniek Garcia scored his second career playoff goal, converting a penalty midway through the second half to double the Dynamo lead.
- "At this point we're a pretty experienced group, there aren't going to be a lot of team talks about things that we haven't talked about all year. I think the biggest thing with how close the playoff race was going into it is that a lot of people have been playing playoff soccer for a long time here, ourselves included," defender Bobby Boswell said.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
- The Red Bulls clinched the club's first major honor with the 5-2 season-ending win in the season finale vs. Chicago to capture the Supporters' Shield. The Red Bulls will now face Houston -- a team they defeated in all three league meetings this season, including 3-0 and 4-1 wins in Houston, and also defeated 3-0 in Houston in their lone postseason meeting there.
- "Tricky things can happen in the playoffs. I'm not counting on them happening to us but a one-off game, home and away series, anything can happen. But over 34 games, my team has proven to be, out of 19 teams, come out on top. So, I'm proud of them," said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke.
- Playing in an attacking central midfield role for a second consecutive match, PÈguy Luyindula recorded three assists in the season-ending win. "Over the last three, four weeks in practice, PÈguy has been consistently the best player," Petke said. "He has really retooled certain things and he knows we're looking at him as more of a midfielder because of his ability to hold the ball for us and his vision."
- There was an injury concern out of the season finale as goalkeeper Luis Robles -- who appeared in all 34 league matches this season -- suffered an injury to his left knee.
- "All indications are that it's not super serious. It's something that's already improved. ... If not, we have someone like Ryan Meara who is champing at the bit behind him and has played phenomenally in practice and reserve games. He has not seen the field only because he's behind right now one of the hottest goalkeepers in the league.
- Starting in central defense for a second consecutive match, Ibrahim Sekagya was credited with his second goal in as many matches for the Red Bulls second. Markus Holgersson again moved out to right back, with David Carney returning to left back.
- "We enjoyed a healthy lineup, almost an entirely healthy team this week leading up to it, with the exception of Roy Miller and Ian Christianson. So, it's tough decisions but you'd rather have tough decisions than only have 11 guys I can count on," said Petke. "In my 10 years in this league, I've never seen a group of players that are all on the same page. I mean, I had to tell Eric Alexander and Brandon Barklage they weren't starting after having solid performances in a win on the road last week, and both their responses were to me, 'I'm ready if you need me.' "