Head coach Ben Olsen's group is now one win away from reaching MLS Cup presented by Audi on Dec. 9. But first comes their biggest Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs challenge yet, when visiting defending champions LAFC next Saturday, Dec. 2 (9:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
The single-elimination Western Conference Semifinal got its breakthrough moment in the 39th minute when Dynamo defender Franco Escobar met Héctor Herrera's inswinging corner kick with a powerful header, causing the Shell Energy Stadium crowd to erupt. Beforehand, winger Nelson Quiñónes repeatedly proved threatening in the first half.
Sporting KC nearly punched back in the 41st minute, only for Dániel Sallói's follow-up shot to be controversially blocked off the line by Erik Sviatchenko. The Hungarian international also had a brilliant look in the 69th minute, but goalkeeper Steve Clark punched away the goal-bound effort orchestrated by Johnny Russell's low cross.
- 39' - HOU - Franco Escobar | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Houston remain in contention for their second trophy of the 2023 campaign, having raised the US Open Cup title in late September over Inter Miami CF. After the club brought in 17 new players during Olsen's first year at the helm, their transformation is both accelerated and well-deserved. This result spelled heartbreak for Sporting KC, who were the West's best team since May and couldn't build on their Round One upset of No. 1 seed St. Louis CITY SC. Magic ran out for Peter Vermes' team after escaping from their 10-game winless start.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Debate will rage about head referee Guido Gonzales Jr. not taking a closer look at Sviatchenko's first-half clearance on Sallói. But Escobar's goal made the difference.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: As is so often the case, Houston's game ran through Herrera. The Mexican star got the game-winning assist, plus pulled the strings in attack and defense.
- HOU: Saturday, Dec. 2 at LAFC | 9:30 pm ET (MLS Season Pass) | Western Conference Final
- SKC: Season over