Written by Chris Snear on November 18, 2012 | No Comments »
Posted in Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, General, Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, New York RB, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps
Dwayne De Rosarsio came on for Emiliano Dudar in the 62nd minute to a huge ovation from the 20,015 faithful. Their last glimmer of optimism as the seconds ticked away far too quickly on the home side’s surprising and eventful season.
Even with that jolt of energy the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player brought to the match, an urgent and purposeful United finally ran out of answers for another rash of injuries, suspensions and their own imprecision to draw 1-1 but fall to a savvy Houston Dynamo club 4-2 on aggregate in their Eastern Conference final series.
In an amazing display of loyalty that United President Kevin Payne said left MLS Commissioner Don Garber “flabbergasted” and was done completely on their own without team involvement, United’s primary supporters groups, La Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles raised a banner stretching across nearly seven sections of the stands that said “You Can’t Hold Us Back – We Are United” while the fans below provided the stripes with large black and red cardboard squares.
The Dynamo advance to their second consecutive MLS Cup final and fourth in franchise history. They will most likely face Los Angeles once again, who hold a 3-0 lead going on the road to Seattle later tonight. Los Angeles won that final 2-1 a year ago.
United could not make that final ball with enough precision and consistency nor finish enough of the chances they did create to overcome the 3-1 hole they found themselves in after the road leg of the series in Houston.
“I think we could have made that really interesting down the stretch if we just had a little bit more composure in front of the goal,” said United coach Ben Olsen.
They had numerous good but not great chances to snatch the prerequisite early lead but in the end, to win games like this, especially by a defined margin, you must typically hold the leaders scoreless and your best available players need to be your best players and in this instance, they did not do either of those.
“We talked about keeping a zero, and as much as this game was about the offense and us scoring goals, it was also about us keeping them off the scoreboard,” Olsen said. “In a game like that, where you need goals, you’re going to have to not make any mistakes on the defensive end.
Oscar Boniek Garcia’s blistering shot from close range gave Houston the lead in the 33rd minute on their only significant chance at goal in the first half. Brad Davis stepped around a lunging Dejan Jakovic giving him the space for a simple cut back off the end line to Boniek García who beat Dudar to the corner of the 6-yard box.
“It hurt,” said Olsen about the giving up the goal. “They didn’t have much up until that point. The way we started the game was great – we put a lot of energy into it and then we kind of had to breathe a bit – that’s why they got a couple looks.”
Branko Boskovic answered for United in the 83rd minute on a sensational individual effort, knifing through a sea of Houston defenders in the penalty area and beat Tally Hall to the short side from close range with his rarely used right foot to bring the match to level terms.
Macoumba Kandji could have definitively ended the series in the 72nd minute but his breakaway attempt from 18-yards whistled inches wide of the left post after being sprung through by a nifty back heel from Will Bruin. He followed that up with a point blank shot four minutes later that Bill Hamid did well to save.
To their credit, the Dynamo did not come out in a complete bunker, choosing to start pressuring around the midfield stripe. Nonetheless, they were cautious, keeping good shape, staying behind ball and looking for counters. United spent most of the first quarter hour in their attacking third but could muster only a surprising Chris Korb shot from distance that Hall did well to parry away.
“It was a game where there were three goals out there, but we weren’t clinical enough in the final third,” said Olsen.
De Rosario’s insertion certainly gave United a lift and a threat off the dribble that they were sorely lacking. It was his first appearance since being injured on September 11 while playing for Canada’s National Team. Though United won several games without him (6-1-4), this was the type of spot where De Rosario plays his best soccer.
“I knew he would energize the crowd and once he came on, he looked a little rusty at times and you saw some magic as well,” said Olsen about De Rosario’s performance. “As a group, we started creating a lot more chances. I would have really liked the next few weeks to get him fit and really see what he has.”
Hamdi Salihi, who came on five minutes prior to De Rosario, had two primo opportunities one of which required a good save by hall in the 71st minute.
“It felt good. I’m grateful that the guys gave me the opportunity to play again this year,” said an emotional De Rosario, who has experience with big playoff comebacks.
“One thing I told the guys is you can’t give up,” added De Rosario. “I mean, I remember in ’04, when I was with San Jose, we went home down 2-0 and we fought back and found a way. We had the chances tonight, but, you know, unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but we were able to get one. It obviously wasn’t enough. You know, just the character the guys showed, the dedication and the unity that we showed as a team was fantastic. It is something we can definitely build on for the future.”
Though no consolation for the playoff exit, with this draw, United will carry an 18 match home unbeaten streak into next season.
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