The Houston Dynamo were heavy underdogs going into their second leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals match against the New York Red Bulls. To make matters worse, Red Bull Arena, is a place where the Dynamo have yet to win -- their last goal was during a 1-1 tie back on April 2, 2011.
Yet anyone that has followed this club knows all to well to not bet against the Dynamo when it's "Noodle Time." And has been the custom here in the Bayou City, the Dynamo prevailed in 2-1 over the Red Bulls in extra time.
Here's five things we learned from another come-from-behind victory for the Dynamo.
5. Hall the Wall He was nearly the scapegoat for the Dynamo's first semi-final round ouster since 2008 -- also against the Red Bulls. Dynamo GK Tally Hall had a huge mental blunder when he punched a loose ball in the box out -- straight to Bradley Wright-Phillips. From six yards out, the NYRB striker easily punched the ball in to give the home side a 3-2 aggregate lead.
Then the center-back pairing of Bobby Boswell and Eric Brunner came to Hall, and told him, "hey, this team has your back; we're gonna get one back for you."
From then on, Hall was a wall behind the net. He finished the game with 8 saves and 2 blocked shots. Even though his early gift to the Red Bulls was costly, he bounced back to be the man of the match.
Sometimes goalkeepers look stupid- but this team has each other's backs and am so proud to be apart of this team, that was fun!
— Tally Hall (@tallyhallGK) November 7, 2013
4.The Comeback Kid It's never too late to save a season, as is being witnessed by Dynamo F Omar Cummings. Relegated to a bench role because of multiple, nagging injuries, Cummings has bounced back to make a name for himself in this post-season.
After a stellar, equalizing goal Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium, Cummings once again came through with the game-winning goal just minutes before the end of the first extra time period.
If you don't believe in karma, try this out for size. In 2008, the Houston Dynamo were the top seed in the Western Conference, and headed into their first round matchup as heavy favorites against the New York Red Bulls. After a 1-1 tie at Giants Stadium, the Dynamo were trounced 3-0 at Robertson Stadium -- thanks in large part to Jamaican international Dane Richards who killed the Dynamo on the flanks.
Forward to 2013, the roles were reversed as the Red Bulls were the heavy favorites after drawing the Dynamo on the road in the first leg. And just like in 2008, it was a Jamaican international who was the difference-maker in this particular match-up. 3. Captain Orange to the rescue You knew at some point in this series, Brad Davis was going to be responsible for a goal in some fashion or another. With his team trailing both in the game and aggregate, Davis came up huge with the equalizer in the 36th minute.
Minutes before the goal, Red Bulls D Ibrahim Sekagya come up funny following a clutch clearance off his line that could have been trouble for his goalkeeper. Yet, leave it to Davis to spot wounded prey and stalk his mark. Sure enough, with Will Bruin pressuring, Sekagya inexplicably passed the ball back to middle of his own 18-yard box -- with Davis lurking. After the ball ricocheted off of Tim Cahill, Davis picked the pass off, took a couple of quick touches, and went near post for the equalizer.
2. Oh Taylor, where art thou If there's one player the Dynamo severely missed during these playoffs, it's Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor. He brings a great, calming presence to the defensive third of the field. He also brings a physicality element that -- for a Dynamo playoff team -- seems to be lacking.
It was apparent from the opening whistle that head referee Silviu Petrescu was going to allow the players to play -- which is all you can ask for in MLS playoff-soccer. What was rather interesting was to see a Dynamo team get handled at times by the Red Bulls. Taylor brings an almost enforcer-type mentality to the pitch that the other Orange-clad lads tend to feed off of. How they handle Sporting next will be a key to watch.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Speaking of Sporting KC It seems like we've seen this script played out already. For the third straight year, the Dynamo will duel with Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not much has changed with regards to lineups with both sides since last year's conference finals, so it would seem the Dynamo would be considered favorites.
The first match in this two-leg, aggregate goal series will be at BBVA on Saturday afternoon. Just like last year, the Dynamo hope to use home-field advantage to get another lead on Sporting heading into the second leg at Sporting Park.
That scenario sets up perfectly for Dynamo. If there's one team in MLS that doesn't shy away from a raucous, hostile road environment -- especially that of Sporting Park in Kansas City -- it's the Dynamo.