Despite two meetings against another already this month, Thursday night’s showdown at BBVA Compass Stadium between the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City had a whole new level of importance. The winner would face off with the Western Conference’s top seed, the Portland Timbers, while the loser would head into the offseason early.
Wilmer Cabrera’s bunch used a 94th-minute winning goal in extra time from Alberth Elis to down Sporting KC, 1-0.
Erick Torres had the first effort towards goal after the half-four mark, but his header was kept out by Andrew Dykstra. Gerso Fernandes’ left-footed effort in the 39th-minute was the visitors best effort towards goal in the first half. The 26-year-old had a good look from inside of the box, but saw his left-footed shot kept out by Tyler Deric.
Just before the hour-mark Torres was stopped again by Dykstra, this time from another header attempt from inside of the box.
Sporting KC did not sit back though, creating chances later in the second-half. LatimfBlessing left-footed effort was saved by Deric in the 70th-minute, while Roger Espinoza’s header was saved in the 81st-minute.
Elis broke the deadlock in the 94th-minute, slotting home from close range. The move started from a darting run by Vicente Sanchez who danced his way down the right flank and inside the box, and hit Elis who calmly finished for his 11th goal of the season.
After setting up the go-ahead goal, Sanchez missed a golden chance to slam the door shut on Sporting KC missing from close-range on a breakaway. However, the Dynamo would hang on for a 1-0 win and a date in the next round of the playoffs.
Deric made six saves in the clean sheet, while Dykstra made three saves in the loss.
The Dynamo now will face the top-seeded Timbers in the Western Conference semifinals after failing to beat them in their previous two matches this season.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Alberth Elis may have slotted home the winner, but Sanchez earned man of the match honors for his wonderful run to set up the goal. The 37-year-old came on as an 87th-minute sub and did not fail to disappoint in his limited time on the pitch.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Both sides were looking for the breakthrough in this chess match, but the hosts found it quickly into the extra time. It was a great run by Sanchez, who was able to keep the ball from going out calmly found Elis for the winning goal.
MATCH TO FORGET
Sporting KC left-back Jimmy Medranda was the guilty party who did not contain Sanchez prior to the Dynamo’s winning goal.The Colombian was beat down the wing, and also failed to foul the Uruguayan who eventually found Elis wide-open.