HOUSTON – Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera believes in miracles. And while his side hasn’t been eliminated just yet from the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Dynamo's 2-0 loss at home to the Seattle Sounders in Leg 1 of the Western Conference Championship puts them in a dire situation.
Aside from getting shut out at BBVA Compass Stadium – the third time it’s happened this season – the Dynamo lost at home for only the second time all year. Now, Houston must do something they’ve only done twice this season – win a game on the road.
For Houston to pull off the miracle, they'll want to make sure to finish the game with 11 players, something they were unable to accomplish in Leg 1. For over an hour on Tuesday, the Dynamo played a man down after Dynamo defender Jalil Anibaba was sent off after being shown a red card for dragging down Joevin Jones in the box.
On top of being a man down, Houston had to contend with the ensuing penalty kick, which goalkeeper Joe Willis, starting in place of the suspended Tyler Deric, stopped to keep the scoreline at 1-0. Despite the saved penalty, Cabrera wasn’t pleased with his side’s response after the red card. In the 42nd minute, a Jones cross found Seattle forward Will Bruin in the box and he headed it past Willis to give the Sounders a definitive 2-0 lead they will take home for the second leg.
“I thought that we could have done better after that [penalty]. I told them not to concede any goal, to defend,” Cabrera said. “I think on that [Bruin] goal. We were sleeping a little bit on that cross.”
Willis, who became the third player in MLS history to save two penalties in the playoffs, said the game came down to a couple of plays that Seattle was able to take advantage of.
“I think we’ll go with the same mentality that we came in today,” said Willis on how the Dynamo will approach Leg 2 next Thursday (10:30 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US | TSN, TVAS in Canada). “A few things didn’t go our way but for the most part I thought we played pretty well, Seattle’s a good team, credit to them.”
Houston has nine days to prepare for the match in Seattle and one thing is certain: The Dynamo have nothing to lose.
“We have to prepare ourselves for Seattle. In Seattle, can we win? Yes. We’re going to go with the mentality that we can win that game because we have a good team. We can be dangerous,” Cabrera said.
“But it’s going to be a tough game. We have to have a good mentality. We’re going to take risks over there. We’re going to take risks because that’s the only option. It’s another 90 minutes at their [Seattle] home. And we need to prepare ourselves for those 90 minutes or it’s going to be the last 90 minutes for us. Or it’s going to be some kind of miracle. I believe in that.”