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Team Wins Bring Houston, Colorado to Western Finale

Two "positive" team performances saw a pair of underdogs through to the Major League Soccer Western Conference final, writes Jeff Carlyle of ESPN Soccernet. The Houston Dynamo and the Colorado Rapids both entered their semifinal clashes over the weekend trailing after the first leg, but were able to produce the goods to see them through to the next phase. These weren't exactly pretty victories, however, given the postgame skirmishes that marred the end of both games, but Colorado and Houston deserved to move on, Carlyle says. It could also be considered poetic justice, given the poor officiating that victimized each of these teams in the first round. The red cards handed to Francisco Palencia of Chivas USA and Chris Gbandi of FC Dallas certainly helped too, by the way. "I'll be the first to admit that I thought Colorado's stellar performance -- one that saw the Rapids overturn deficits in both regulation and in overtime to prevail on penalty kicks -- was beyond them, especially given the numerous bad calls that went against them in this series," Carlyle said, adding: "It's conceivable that three of the four goals scored by Dallas over the two legs shouldn't have counted, and when the Rapids' Clint Mathis had a perfectly good goal disallowed in extra time for a phantom offside call, you got the feeling that it wasn't going to be Colorado's night." But it was to be Clint Mathis' night, and what a spectacular game-tying goal it was. It was an especially bitter loss for FC Dallas, which only had two home-game wins standing in the way of its first-ever MLS championship.

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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