[MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: D.C. United-Houston]The Houston Dynamo advanced to MLS Cup for the fourth time in seven years since moving from San Jose when its 1-1 tie with D.C. United was enough to send it through to the 2012 final with a 4-2 aggregate win in the Eastern Conference final.
-- Honduran international Oscar Boniek Garcia, who played a key role since his arrival in June as only the Dynamo's second Designated Player, scored from close range in the 34th minute after some nifty work by Brad Davisto all but end the series. Davis' assist was his third of the 2012 postseason and eighth all-time in the playoffs for the Dynamo, both club records.
-- After being badly outplayed by Sporting Kansas City in the second leg of the conference semifinals when it was outshot 20-3, Houston did a better job against at RFK Stadium. D.C. United finished with a 19-10 edge in shots, but it wasn't until the 84th minute that it got on the scoreboard when Branko Boskovic evened the score.
-- Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo coach since to Houston, acknowledged that his team is often overlooked. “I don’t think we’re the prettiest of teams," he said. "We’re not glamorous. We don’t hoot and holler and talk about ourselves too much. We just go about our way. I wouldn’t say people overlook us -- I think they respect us -- but they don’t really see us in the vein of wonderful teams. If it comes down to results, four MLS Cups in seven years at the start of the franchise is pretty impressive.”
-- Ricardo Clark, another mid-season arrival, started the second leg after missing the first game with a groin injury. But he had to leave the game in the 66th minute when Dwayne De Rosario took him down. His status for the final against the Los Angeles Dec. 1 is uncertain. Clark had also missed the 2006 and 2007 finals because of injury and suspension.
-- Injuries and suspensions had left D.C. depleted. Chris Pontius, its leading scorer with 12 goals, was injured in the 12th minute of the first leg and did not return for the second leg.Brandon McDonaldwent off early in the second half of the first game and was lost for the remainder of the series. Andy Najarwas suspended and missed both games. De Rosario, the 2011 MLS MVP, came on for the last hour in the second leg after being out for the entire playoffs.
Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C.
D.C. United 1 Houston 1.Goals: Boskovic (Maicon Santos) 83; Garcia (Davis) 34.
D.C. United --Hamid, Russell, Jakovic, Korb, Dudar (De Rosario, 62), DeLeon, Saragosa (Neal, 46), Kitchen, Boskovic, Maicon Santos, Pajoy (Salihi, 57).
Houston --Hall, Ashe, Sarkodie, Taylor, Boswell, Moffat, Garcia, Davis (Barnes, 84), R.Clark (Luiz Camargo, 66), Bruin (Weaver, 77), Kandji.