MLS Cup Playoffs: Dynamo Dominate Post-Season Newbs
They came with with tricks and left with treats on Halloween night. Can the Dynamo duplicate their performance against the East's top seed?
Photo by Danny Lopez
There were signs all around town leaning toward impending doom for the Montreal Impact. The fact that the heavy rains that plagued the area late Wednesday arrived as the Impact's plane landed in Houston. Or perhaps that the rain clouds over downtown cleared just before kickoff -- leaving an orange sunset over BBVA Compass Stadium.
Or maybe it was the pumpkin spice latte that was so perfectly crafted for me earlier in the day -- pumpkin being the color orange.
Either way, the Impact had ample warning the Dynamo were coming for the 3-0 rout in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Dynamo now await the Supporter's Shield-winning New York Red Bulls for a two-game aggregate goal series -- beginning Sunday afternoon at BBVA.
Here are five things we learned from BBVA on Halloween night.
5. Bruin continues playoff form Coming into the season, Dynamo F Will Bruin had high expectations. He was coming off a career year in which he netted 12 goals in 2012, and performed remarkably in the playoffs. He even earned a cap for the US Men's National Team when they had their friendly here at BBVA back in January.
But the season didn't turn out quite the way Bruin had expected, and he produced fewer goals in 2013. However, the playoffs are a new season, and Bruin capitalized with two world-class finishes to help lift the Dynamo -- and his confidence.
"He got great enjoyment out of that second goal," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said after the match. "I think it was one of those where he'd been knocked down quite a lot all night, and he kept on plugging along. And it was one of those 'You're not stopping me this time.'"
4. Clark making late case for Brazil 2014 Matt Doyle of MLSsoccer.com asked the question during their post-game analysis: "Why isn't Ricardo Clark in the fray for the USMNT?"
Clark covered more ground on Thursday night than any other player in the match. He was superb on the defensive side, as is usually the case. But it was his presence on the ball pushing forward that had the Dynamo firing on all cylinders. And never was it more evident than on his back-heel assist to Bruin for the first goal.3. Best seat in the house
Dynamo GK Tally Hall had the privilege of sitting back and watching his teammates put on another professional victory during the playoffs. Yet he was anything but star-struck or mesmerized.
"Sometimes it's fun being a goalkeeper and watching the team in front of you put on a performance that I'll be able to look back on," Hall said after the match. "It's fun being with this group; it's fun being on field playing with this team because of our capabilities of putting a game together like that. It makes soccer fun."
A positive attitude is contagious; winning is contagious. And if Hall and his teammates carry Thursday's momentum into the semifinals, they'll be a tough test for the Supporter's Shield champs.
2. Got ugly in the end, eh Although the Impact are a young franchise in MLS, they are chock-full of veterans. So you would think that they'd be a little more professional when it came to handling their playoff exit.
That wasn't the case for Impact F's Marco di Vaio and Andrés Romero. Both were so clearly frustrated by the end of the match that they couldn't wait any longer to exit. Minutes before the end, Romero shoved Dynamo M Kofi Sarkodie down, then kicked him while the play was dead. A shoving match ensued. Taking the opportunity during the melee, di Vaio took a cheap shot at Dynamo D Corey Ashe.
Both men were ejected from the match, while a hot-tempered Ashe was given a caution. Ashe now has to keep his cool in Sunday's match, because if he receives a yellow card he'll miss the second leg at Red Bull Arena.
1. Bring on the Bulls Much has been made of the Red Bulls owning the Dynamo this season. The Red Bulls won all three matches this season between the two, and by a combined score of 9-1.
The common element in the first two losses was the absence of Brad Davis and Boniek García. The third match featured the Dynamo's full squad, but also starred the fastest goal in MLS history -- eight seconds into the match.
The Dynamo could bank on the Red Bulls overlooking them because of the previous meetings. But first-year head coach Mike Petke will be quick to point out that this here is the MLS Cup Playoffs; and when it comes to the Dynamo -- you ain't seen nothing yet.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.