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Houston edges Luis Angel Firpo, reaches Champions League quarters

Brian Ching ( 

Brian Ching's 13th-minute goal was enough to help the Houston Dynamo earn a place in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory against CD Luis Angel Firpo on Wednesday night.

The Dynamo defense rebounded well from its Western Conference playoff loss to the New York Red Bulls to post a shutout in a must-win match as goalkeeper Pat Onstad recorded five saves.

Houston, which finished second in its group behind Mexican side UNAM Pumas, will now take part in the Champions League quarterfinals in February against a yet-to-be determined opponent. The Dynamo will either face CD Marathon, Santos Laguna or Atlante in the quarterfinals.

The Dynamo was the only MLS team to reach the quarterfinals, joining USL sides Montreal and Puerto Rico in the last eight.

What do you think of the result? Still think the Dynamo can salvage Major League Soccer's pride in the competition? Would you love to see a Houston-Montreal or a Houston-Puerto Rico semifinal?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I think it’s too soon to be talking about Houston in the CCL semifinals. The Dynamo were very lucky to make it through the group stage and I don’t see them going any further in this tournament. I think the Mexican teams will dominate the rest of the CCL.

  2. I was actually at the game and there were a lot of Firpo players diving, all of them trying to draw fouls and the ref bought it. When Firpo actually decide to play ball they looked good. But like most central and mexican teams that play against MLS teams they all start diving and rolling around in pain and as soon as the ref doesn’t buy it, they get back up. All the diving could have been stopped if the ref took control of the game from the beginning a handed out cards but like most concacaf refs, they are horrible. Some of the Houston cards were deserved but there were a lot of non-calls for Firpo. As a dynano fan, i have to say that Robinson is an idiot. There are a lot of haters in here but that’s fine we made it through.

  3. OK Yosi, I guess I’m an amateur. At what are you a professional? Um, McAllen? Why bring that up out of nowhere? Why compare it to Houston? Your vitriol shows the lie in your statement of being a “realist”. Whatever.

    Oh, and “professional” Yossi, when have you ever seen a real missed handball penalty call not protested by the opposing team, even one that doesn’t flop and whine constantly. Next you’ll tell me that Ashe did hit Firpo’s goalie.

    I’m open about my bias for Houston, but I at least try to be fair. You’ll note that I explicitly said “most of the calls against Houston were deserved” and that the Dynamo “need to learn to control their anger”. The problem was that the referee called almost nothing against Firpo. That is what causes a referee to lose control of a game.

  4. Not a Houston hater. Just a realist. And to be honest, I hate ALL of Texas. Not just Houston. McAllen Texas is just as bad as Houston. Up yours Texas.

    Of course Bretos is going with the momentum…just like other qualified journalists do..Jorge Ramos, ANdres Cantor…Maybe your homies Shep Messing and Brian Bliss might call it your way…But being bias isn’t always the right call.

  5. Wow you can tell the Houston haters because they are complaining about these completely non existent handballs in the box and saying that all of Houstons cards were deserved. Get your eyes checked. ERobs was bogus, DeRo’s was for pushing a guy that was basically trying to break his arm from behind. They dont even acknowledge the Firpo goalie flop, amongst others. Stop hatin.

  6. Heheh, the best is when Bretos makes a wild stab at a possible Euro transfer and gets it right, then claims his “sources” in Europe were right all along.

    Truly terrible announcer. Disgraceful, really, given that that moment at the end of the Houston game was about as accurate as he generally is on these things.

  7. Socmin,

    The classic Max Bretos moment last night was when he started talking about the intruder on the field. “It appears an intruder has entered the field”.

    It was the Firpo goalie coming down during a free kick near the end of the game. He was in all black and apparently him joining the play was a little much for the brain of Mad Max to handle. After mentioning it twice he realized it was the Firpo goalie.

  8. The game could have ended at least TWICE for houston. Two handballs that weren’t called in the Houston penalty area. One was clear enough. The second, very iffy. Robinson is an idiot and deserved the red card. For you amateurs out there, if you’re going in with a high boot and then follow through with your other foot..well that just shows bad intention. The ref had great positioning and Robinson got ejected fairly. Whammy! If Barroche could have controlled the turn around he had early in the 2half, this game would have been sealed.

  9. Bretos always looks at who has the momentum, and then forgets what happened the rest of the game.

    @ silent e

    ERob deserved the red. If you look at the replay (if you can find it, anyways) he didn’t just take the guy out with his trailing leg, he extending his leg into the guy’s thigh. If he doesn’t extend that leg (stupid move! no wonder he’s a little bit in Dom’s doghouse) it’s probably not even a foul.

    That being said, the point about the Firpo non-calls is true. I remember one point where a Firpo defender was hanging over Ashe and beating away with closed fists at his shoulder, only to have Ashe lay the ball off and the Firpo defender flop, drawing a phantom foul.

  10. socmin:

    It wasn’t you. Max is an idiot and should never be allowed to broadcast. Everything he says is dramatized 10x. While Firpo played better in the second half, they didn’t have a lot of good chances, and in fact, there weren’t a lot of good chances in the game, but he made it sound like Houston was going through blitzkrieg.

  11. CD, TimN, and AlexS – great comments. Was it me, or was the broadcast team on FSN (not that they are usually much) particularly animated against Houston? I had to do my normal mute to enjoy most of the second half.

  12. Jaqua was selected Wednesday, but his contract doesn’t go to Seattle until Friday. That’s why he was eligible to play. He worked very hard and made a lot of good plays. Better still, he was pure class. When he was substituted off he the fans gave him a standing send-off, and he cheered the fans heartily. I suspect that when he returns wearing blue and green he will be warmly received.

    I disagreed the red card on ERob. He cleared the ball away and the then hit the player in the shin with his follow through. Why is that more than a yellow? The refereeing was bizarre through most of the game. Most of the calls against Houston were deserved, but he called nothing against Firpo. A Firpo player as the last defender denied a clear scoring opportunity. Not even a foul was given, much less the red card it should have been. And the Firpo players dove like crazy, and the referee ignored it all until the 90th minute. At one point Firpo’s goalie, a defender, and Cory Ashe were all racing for the ball. The goalie got it at the last minute as Ashe jumped over him and his defender slammed his boot into the goalie’s knee. The goalie jumped up, turned around and yelled and screamed at Cory Ashe long enough to get the rest of Firpo’s players to come and hassle Ashe, then dropped to the ground in sudden pain to receive medical treatment. The goalie did this 3 times. Every single Dynamo restart after the goal ended with a Firpo player lying on the ground, writhing around. The Dynamo were obviously frustrated by this kind of behavior and the tension in the stands was rather high. The Dynamo do need to learn to control their anger, though, as they had 4 players receive yellow cards, 3 in the first half. I was hoping Kinnear would sub at halftime just to protect them. All’s well that ends well, however; on to the quarters.

  13. Congrats to Houston after a 48 game season (the most any MLS team has ever played). Next year teams will be able to commit more to the international tournaments since the same teams won’t be in all of them. Houston was in 4 tournaments this year along with playing their regular season and an MLS playoff series.

    I am looking forward to those winter games in Montreal. Imagine a Mexican coach trying to get his team on a plane to go to Montreal in February.

  14. I’m glad Houston is in. The problem with the CCL is/was that it is poorly timed with the end of the MLS season and the MLS playoffs. They can try to “play up” the CCL all they want, but no MLS team is going to send their top players to this tourney to get fatigued or injured when the MLS Cup is on the line, especially with the physical, rough play that is hallmark of a lot of hispanic clubs. I’m actually fairly suprised that Champions League in Europe is as successful as it is, for the same reason.

    However, Houston can play full force at this point, with all of its best available talent, now that MLS Cup is over. I say from here, you will see a stronger MLS presence with Houston. I’ll also make the call that they go deep in this tourney.

  15. I’m pulling for Houston, Montreal and Puerto Rico. Kudos to USL-1! It is most important for MLS teams to do well in this tournament and I hope Houston wins its next match.

  16. I’m glad the Dynamo made it to the next round… The team didn’t look too bad… Thanks go to Nate Jaqua for the help he has been to the team in the past and good luck to him in Seattle…

    Eddie Robinson on the other hand I’m pretty sick and tired off… What is the deal with this guy? His play wasn’t as strong this year as it was the previous season and instead of improving his game play he gets kicked out of games. This season alone I think he was ejected or suspended due to card accumulations eight times, and if it wasn’t that he was hurt for a big chunk of the season. Enough already, get that guy out of there…

  17. Thank goodness we have some representation in the knock out rounds! MLS would have looked pretty stupid had we put up an

    O-fer in the first Champions League. Yikes!

  18. Great match, if you ignore the first 15 minutes of the second half 😛

    All the Dynamo cards were legit (some would say lenient) and Firpo had one possibly legit handball in the box on the Dynamo go uncalled, but it was otherwise a good performance by the Dynamo. Firpo started to figure the Dynamo out towards the end of the first half, and the sub they put in at halftime really gave the Dynamo formation trouble. The Firpo players realized that they could maul the Dynamo midfielders and not be called, thus the first 15 of the second half involved pulling the Dynamo player with the ball down from behind and booting the ball upfield. A few lucky bounces later, and they had more than a few dangerous shots. But the Dynamo D held solid (and their striker couldn’t control a great pass), which game Kinnear enough time to decide to switch Ashe and Mullan to the other sides of the wing.

    That was the key to the game, since Firpo couldn’t answer the Dynamo winger switch and lost all momentum after that point. The right back took the whole first half to figure out that Ashe only trys to beat you with a fake out followed by a quick dribble to the left, but after the switch he was effective again and forced Firpo to back off the foul-and-boot game, which let the Dynamo play their preferred possession game.

    A few scary moments, some fairly stupid cards for retaliations, and a Mexican ref giving a second yellow/red for somebody diving in the box.

    And passing into the next round.

    I’ll take it.

  19. Ives. Houston cannot meet Montreal or PRI until the Semifinals. Houston will face either Marathon, Santos Laguna or Atlante in the Quarterfinals. Houston is #2 team and therefore will play a #1 team.

  20. If the Mexican ref hadnt been paid off things probably would have been a little more under control. Ridiculous yellow cards, especially on DeRo.

  21. That February quarterfinal might hit Houston hard though. They better keep all their players healthy and fit and call them in in January a month early or something. If not, then we’re just gonna see a team thats not even match fit come back from their vacations and try to jump into the quarterfinals.

  22. This is a good result. Good teams get good results. Of course, it’d be nice to win by three goals but what MLS teams need to do is to learn how to win in international competition and the Dynamo made positive step forward for MLS.


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