Houston and Sporting KC advance to the MLS Eastern Conference Final
New York Red Bulls 1 Houston Dynamo 2 AET (3-4 Agg) 6 November
The Houston Dynamo made it to the Eastern Conference Final with a dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Supporters Shield winning Red Bulls. After falling behind 2-0 in the 1st Leg at the weekend before batting back to force a draw, the Dynamo found themselves trailing again here when New York took the lead after 23 minutes. Lloyd Sam sent in a cross which the visitors goal-keeper Tally Hall failed to take cleanly and after failing to convert two earleir opportunities Bradley Wright-Phillips made it third time lucky as he pounced on the loose ball to slot it home. The hosts were in complete control until some sloppy defending gifted the Dynamo’s a way back into the contest 13 minutes later. Ibrahim Sekagya played an ill-advised pass across the top of his own penalty area which Brad Davis intercepted and slotted it home with ease passed Luis Robles in the home sides goal. Just before the break New York almost regained their lead but Hall redeemed himself with a brilliant reaction save to deny Tim Cahill who had redirected a Thierry Henry shot. The hosts continued to created chances and Henry was unlucky to see his header smack off the crossbar after 65 minutes. The Frenchman also had a chance in stoppage time, but his spectacular bicycle kick was deflected just wide and the match went in to extra time. Their failure to convert chances into goals ultimately proved fatale for New York as 1 minute before the end of the first-period Houston grabbed the goal the proved to be the winner. Omar Cummings, who had scored the late equaliser on Sunday grabbed the headlines after he came off the bench again to replace Will Bruin after 64 minutes. Full-back Kofi Sarkodie sent in a cross that Cam Weaver headed down and Cummings managed to get enough on it to force it over the line before Robles could claw it away. New York had a good chance to square it up in the second-half of extra time but substitute Péguy Luyindula who had come on in the place of Brandon Barklage at the change of ends in overtime blazed it over from close range. There were still a couple of hearts-in-mouths moments for Houston to endure as Henry claimed for a penalty kick after he thought he had being fouled by Eric Brunner, but just as with the Dynamo’s late appeal in the 1st leg it was waived away. Henry had one last chance to send the game to penalty-kicks but he could not find the target from a late free-kick as the Red Bulls quest for an MLS Cup success goes on. The victory for Houston sees them claim a place in the Eastern Conference Final for the third straight year.
Sporting Kansas City 3 New England Revolution 1 AET (4-3 Agg)
Sporting advanced to the Eastern Conference Final after a tense night of action saw them prevail. Having come into the contest with a 2-1 lead New England knew all they needed was a draw, but 4 minutes before the half-time interval that advantage had gone. After coming up with three previous saves the Revs keeper Matt Reis was powerless to stop a Aurélien Collin effort after he had latched on to a loose ball from a Dom Dwyer shot that had cannoned off defender Andrew Farrell. The hosts continued to put presure on the Revs goal and 10 minutes into the second-stanza were denied the lead when Reis came up with a brilliant double save from attempts by Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber. With 20 minutes remaining the visitors regained the advantage. Dimitry Imbongo was on hand to dispatch a header past the home sides goalie Jimmy Nielsen from a set-piece. Their joy was short-lived though as 9 minutes later Sporting had hauled themselves level again. Full-back Seth Sinovic was loitering at the back-post and blasted the ball home after Graham Zusi had managed to get a flick-on. With 5 minutes left the Revs had a chance to snatch the winner but Diego Fagundez could not find the target and the game headed for over-time. With 10 minutes of the extra-time gone the Revs had an excellent chance to go in front. Juan Agudelo got free on a breakaway, but Nielsen kept his side in it with the save. That proved costly for the away side as 7 minutes before the conclusion the hosts claimed the decisive tally. Feilhaber served up a cross and substitute Claudio Bieler, who had replaced Dwyer after 84 minutes, was in the right place at the right time to convert it passed Reis. Sporting also had a chance to put the tie to bed but Paulo Nagamura’s effort just went narrowly wide. Sporting now travel to Houston for the 1st leg of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday as the two sides meet in the playoffs for the third season running.
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