The Plot Thickens: MLS Conference Finals

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Houston Dynamo 3-1 D.C. United
Houston leads 3-1 on aggregate
Next match: Sunday, November 18 at RFK Stadium (4 pm EST)

Injuries, early substitutions, and controversy…oh my. This match had it all. Houston battled back from a 1-0 deficit to earn a 3-1 win and take an edge in the two-legged series. Each team has some adversity ahead, as Houston lost Adam Moffat to injury while Brandon McDonald, Marcelo Saragosa and Chris Pontius all exited early for D.C. United.

United jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the 27th minute when Nick DeLeon hit a rebound off the Houston defense and into the back of the net. The goalscoring play began when Lionard Pajoy ripped a shot off the far post from inside the 18-yard box. The rebound trickled back to DeLeon, setting him up with a nice opportunity. The midfielder fired a shot which looked destined to hit the post or side netting, but was ultimately deflected into the net back the Dynamo defense.

A spot of controversy emerged near the end of the first half when Andre Hainault took down a United attacker with a two-legged tackle. Head official Ricardo Salazar deemed it to be a legal challenge and waived play on.

But wouldn’t you know it: Hainault was the one to pull his side level in the 52nd minute with a hard blast from close range into the top of the net. His equalizing goal was set up by a lovely cross from teammate Oscar Boniek Garcia. Will Bruin then put his side in the lead for good with his fourth playoff goal of the 2012 postseason in the 68th minute. In true Bruin fashion, it was an ungraceful yet effective tally. Pretty or not, they all count the same.

Kofi Sarkodie wrapped things up in the 81st minute, finding the back of the net for the first time in his career to make it 3-1.

D.C. United – Nick DeLeon (Unassisted) 27’
Houston – Andre Hainault (Oscar Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis) 52’
Houston – Will Bruin (Unassisted) 68’
Houston – Kofi Sarkodie (Luiz Camargo) 81’

Houston – Macounba Kandji (Time wasting) 76’

Houston Starting XI: Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Corey Ashe, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Brad Davis (Warren Creavalle 88’), Adam Moffat (Giles Barnes 25’), Luiz Camargo, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Macoumba Kandji, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 88’)

D.C. United Starting XI: Joe Willis, Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald (Emiliano Ariel Dudar 56’), Dejan Jakovic, Chris Korb, Marcelo Saragosa (Raphael Santos de Silva 40’), Chris Pontius (Lewis Neal 12’), Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Branko Boskovic, Lionard Pajoy

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