The Houston Dynamo found themselves in familiar territory Sunday evening, one step closer to the MLS Cup. After their 1-0 overtime victory against the Seattle Sounders FC, the Dynamo advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
Sunday's game was the second leg of a two-game, aggregate goal series. The first game was a 0-0 draw in Seattle last week. Because neither team scored at the end of regulation yesterday, they went to overtime to determine the winner.
Five minutes into overtime, Dynamo defender Mike Chabala sent a cross into the box that sailed over the head of Brian Ching. The ball somehow found Brian Mullan, who put the ball back in play. Ching then did his best Chuck Norris impersonation with a roundhouse kick that put the ball in the back of the net.
"That sort of signifies that way our team is, we never give up on a play," Ching told Hair Balls. "Brian Mullan kind of kept [the ball] alive, the ball fell right to me and I hit one of the best shots of my career. I'm happy that it went in, and now we're moving on [to the conference finals]."
The first half of Sunday's game was all Dynamo. Dominic Oduro used his speed to keep Seattle's defense under siege. In the 16th minute, Seattle keeper Kasey Keller blocked a point-blank shot from Odurol. Minutes later, Oduro was denied by the left goal post.
By halftime, the Dynamo had 9 shots, compared to only two Seattle shots.
Seattle played considerably better in the second half, led by the Freddie's. Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero helped create more chances for Seattle, but the finishing just wasn't there for the visitors. Nor was it there for the Dynamo, as the two teams took a 0-0 tie to overtime.
Ching's goal, the only goal scored in the two-game series, was the difference maker.
Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear praised his squad for moving on to the next round, but noted how close this series was.
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"If it takes Brian Ching's goal to separate the two teams, it just shows you how close the two teams are," he said.
The Dynamo now face David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy Friday night in SoCal (ESPN2, 10 p.m.) The Galaxy advanced to the conference finals with a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA on a Landon Donovan penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
The Eastern Conference Final will feature Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire (Saturday, Fox Soccer Channel).
In my last predictions, I called all four series winners, including RSL's upset over the Columbus Crew. Look for my next round of predictions later in the week, as I look to stay perfect.