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Bruin’s brace leads Dynamo to East semifinals

The Houston Dynamo may have entered Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference wild card round playoff game against the as the lower seed, but they never quite had the feeling of an underdog.

The Dynamo never looked like the underdog on Wednesday, outplaying the Fire on their home field for much of Wednesday night. Will Bruin’s two goals made the difference and Houston’s team defending made those goals stand up as the Dynamo posted a 2-1 victory to book their place in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Bruin headed home a Brad Davis corner kick in the first half, then raced onto a Calen Carr pass in the first minute of the second half to slot home the eventual winning goal.

Houston’s midfield outworked Chicago’s with Brad Davis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Ricardo Clark carrying the play and forcing the Fire to settle for sending attacks down the flanks. Patrick Nyarko was effective for the Fire, and he set up Chicago’s lone goal (scored by Alex late in the second half), but Houston’s defense kept Fire forwards Sherjill MacDonald and Chris Rolfe bottled up.

The Dynamo victory sets up a rematch of the 2011 Eastern Conference final, which saw Houston defeat Sporting Kansas City. Houston holds a 1-0-2 edge on KC this season, but the one Dynamo victory came against a short-handed KC team (and came after an early KC red card).

The loss ended a disappointing month for the Fire, which saw them go from the verge of first place in the East to a slide that dropped them into Wednesday’s knockout round match.

Here are the match highlights:

What did you think of the match? Impressed with Houston’s performance? Disappointed with how the Fire looked? See the Dynamo beating Sporting KC?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. So…NOW can we stop pretending that Sean Johnson actually deserves serious consideration from Jurgen Klinsmann? The guy is rather average 99% of the time, and the other 1% he spends making nightmarish and tremendously costly gaffes that one might reasonably expect an AYSO ‘keeper to make the save on! You’ll rarely witness a softer goal than Will Bruin’s opener against the Fire last night, and that’s down to the fact that Johnson let a truly lame header blow right past him. As if that last-gasp howler in Olympic qualifying wasn’t proof enough that Johnson is an extreme liability; I hardly think people should require any more evidence by now!

  2. Dale Dynamo! Bruin, Hall, Davis, and Garcia were phenomenal. I feel like Bruin could be in the national team talks after last nights performance, as a dynamo fan that is no doubt the most impressed I’ve been with him, he showed his control, finishing, and hold up play well and he only just turned 22! I’m usually very hesitant to say a player should be in the talks for a call-up but I think Bruin is about reaching that point and although he still does need to find consistency, he’s showing a lot of his qualities as a young forward. Bruin and Hall for the national team!

    On a similar note Johnson is a scary thought in goal for the US sometime, very shaky and this and the Olympics show he is not ready for a big game situation with the U.S. The young goalies of MLS are still quite a ways away from getting time with the national team. That being directed at Johnson, Hamid, and McMath.

  3. My two cents Klopas did us a favor playing the team that got him into the playoffs. As sometimes happens, the particular unit that churns you out week to week results may not be the right matchup for a playoff opponent. The Dynamo’s slow defense was clobbered by Oduro and Nyarko during the regular season, and allowed a goal once they were in together after subbing last night. But generally speaking they did us a favor starting McDonald. We have big backs built to stop target types and long or aerial play. The mismatch would have been speed. But then that would be abandoning the “dance with who brung you” principle guiding many coaches.

    Speaking of which, Kinnear needs to re-think that defense. The offense was about as good as we can muster this year, but I think we can do better on defense. If Creavalle is healthy he is better than depending on either Sarkodie or Ashe. They were “good enough” to get us through one round but just because they’ve been routine recent starters does not mean they are good ones, or that changing things up would necessarily be negative.

    I really didn’t like Carr out there but it’s developed into a “least worst” situation where all other possible candidates are flopping worse, which is why each round will be an adventure.

    • Sarkodie had a decent time defending after settling down. He had some pretty clutch stops through the middle third of the game. That said, he couldn’t connect a pass to save his life in the first half hour.

      Carr had a bit of a stinker, but he’s also had some really solid showings this year.

      I didn’t think Ashe was too bad last night… then again, Boniek was dropping back late to cover for him. At least Ashe put in a good cross (for the first time in who knows how long) that could have been a goal if not for an amazing goal-line intervention by Segares.

      • Sarkodie was very shaky early on but did play better after settling down, I think if he just gets the experience he will be fine and I’m not too concerned with him starting. Although as a coach Hainault’s experience could be helpful if they could find a way to work him into the lineup. I would perfer Hainault over Taylor at CB for what he has to offer but it also depends who your up against, with a team like KC, whom I feel like has a similar but much better style than Chicago, maybe a similar lineup would work. The players who had a shaky performance just need to step it up if we are going to win in the series against KC.

      • The affection for Calen Carr in Houston reeks of Trust In Dom mythmaking. His best year in Chicago he started 10 played 27 total 1134 minutes 3 goals 2 assists. People there were driven nuts by him. He comes here, Dom annoints him a starter, he starts 7 more games and the statistical improvement is all of 1 goal. People see that goal or assist and give him all this credit but then per the stats you will be waiting four more games to see added production. And that’s what I see when I watch. One good play and then games’ worth of wormburner crosses and him losing the ball. He starts like I said because he’s “least worst,” although the much derided Mac Kandji had the exact same 4 goals and 2 assists, in the same amount of minutes, this season. But one is great and the other awful because Dom starts one and benches the other. It really reflects the talent issues at the edges of the 11 which rendered us such a modest seed.

        Sarkodie was being abused all game. People were turning him in circles first half and he almost got beat around the end in the second half except for his tackle facing his own net. I’ve watched Creavalle be more effective at the same spot in USOC and CCL and some MLS cameos. Again, I wonder if there is a pro-coach bias when people want to defend a player who routinely does not play well, just because he starts, like the coach “found some one.”

        I think this is a pretty good team worthy of the playoffs based on players like Boniek and Davis and Bruin and Hall and Taylor, but it’s also carrying a fair amount of rubbish which is why we’re a mediocre seed. Though pro-Kinnear people like to emphasize making the playoffs every year, what I’m looking at is him screwing up a bunch of acquisitions too, where we just don’t quite have a full roster of real good players, like we used to in the golden years. This team needs another bit of roster turnover to shed the Camargos Watsons Chings Weavers etc. and up the talent a bit where people don’t feel compelled from being Dynamo fans to defend all these guys like Carr and Sarkodie, sorry dudes. On the really good years you didn’t have to excuse a lot on the roster…..we had Holden and Wondo as backups…..

  4. Don’t be shocked. If you’re a fan of the MLS, you probably know this is what Kinnear & Co. do come playoff time. Can’t win on the road to save their lives in the regular season, but come playoffs, they step up every time.

      • With our poor regular season showings against Chicago, I was worried.

        At the same time, I spent most of the season thinking: “How is Chicago getting such good results? They’re not THAT good that they should be 2nd in the conference?

    • Not a fan of Houston, but they can go toe to toe against any team in a home away series. I can see them going to the cup. (hope not)

  5. Whew.. big sigh of relief at my house. I was worried about this game but Dom seems to know what buttons to hit when the playoffs roll around. Sarkodie scares the crap out of me defending. Moffat and Taylor need to pick it up against KC. Love Boniek.

    • I think Dom knows how to create veteran playoff teams, top 8-10 sides who show up ready for games like this. However, since 2007, I don’t know if he knows how to create cup winners anymore. We have the wings covered but there is not enough forward quality, no CAM (and we haven’t had a real one since DeRo), and a solid but slow defense. The net result is well drilled teams that if they can score can advance some rounds, but which lack the overall offensive punch to win titles, and which can’t quite shut down the other team enough to pitch shutouts. Disagree? Why can’t we get past LA.

      I think we could maybe even win titles with a leaky defense if we had just a little better offense. The 06 07 teams could get away with mediocre forward play around Ching, as well as defensive lapses, because DeRo would score some himself and set people up also. I do like Boniek and Davis but until we get a CAM we’re stuck at a level, and kissing up to Dom only encourages the “empty bucket” approach he’s gotten stuck in that’s pushing the title years further off.

    • dont blame it on mls, blame it on chicago’s ownership. 3rd biggesr city in our country and they cant sellout a playoff game. there are several teams not in the playoffs that would have sold this out and imn tired of hearing the 30 minutes from downtown excuse. thats the way it is in philly and kc which is the 2 places ive lived and both cities would sell this game out.

      • you are correct. there is no excuse for the poor turn out. a full stadium can make the difference at times, especially in the playoffs. we did 24k on a weeknight last year in the playoffs -2nd leg at robertson stadium vs philly.

      • LOL, they are not that bad in attendance but last night was a very weak turnout. no exccuses, not the weather or it being haloween day.

      • Sorry, but this is nonsense. We are not the NFL. We can’t count on 30k people every game no matter what. The Fire front office and the league needs to take each element into consideration when deciding when to play games. And to play a game on four days notice, on Halloween night, on a Wednesday, in 40 degree weather, with an 8:30pm kickoff time, and expect to get more than 10K people – playoff game or not – is optimistic to the point of delusional.

        Our fan base consists mostly of families. Not many families would be willing to go to that game last night. Knowing a little about your customers can do you a lot more good than pushing more advertising in their faces.

        To be clear, I’m not making excuses, per se, I’m faulting the league for playing games under these conditions. If it means having fewer playoff games and fewer teams making the playoffs, so be it. I think it would be better to avoid midweek games and going so deep into the year with cold-weather cities.

      • The late time probably had a lot to do with ESPN. But other than that, I think you’re right. Disappointing, though, to see so few people there.

      • Their attendance was up 10% this year. But last night was not good for sure. They must have known Sean John would crap the bed again and decided to do Halloween instead.

    • Personally, I think it is a poor decision by the MLS to host a playoff game on a midweek Halloween night, especially in Chicago. You’ve got to draw more than 10k, no doubt, but that was just a dumb call to have it there in the first place. And on ESPN no less, pitiful.

    • I’d said this earlier in the week, that I’d take Rimando or Hall over Johnson. This was illustrative of why. Hall has his own issues, sometimes parries the ball too much, not real strong in distribution or on the punt. But he’s better at basic goalkeeping than Johnson, who looked a skittish mess again last night.

      • When Hall got started he routinely shanked goal kicks and balls at his feet over the sidelines. The only thing saving him was his goalkeeping. He has improved his distribution but he still does not have a boomer a la Onstad, he usually only gets the ball to the halfline, which I could do easy. But he has improved on his kicks, and you only occasionally see the shanks when he gets nervous. You can actually tell when he’s getting skittish because he’ll clank one over the sideline at about the “50.”

        I see three issues between him and the USMNT. Distribution, a tendency to start parrying rather than catching, and occasional massive brain farts like the goal he allowed to the Rapids last year where he broke on a perceived cross which turned out to be a shot swerving the other way, goal.

        That being said, I think in his raw state he’s better than the U23s and more in the league of Rimando or Guzan. Given how the U23 defense worked out anyone associated with it needs to be viewed with skepticism. I saw the same big game skittishness from Johnson last night, fumbling shots.

    • Ummm, I think you have me mixed up with some one else. Maybe way down in texas. Will Sean Johnson be in the MNT most likely but he is way too young to be there yesterday. Him Hamid and McMath all have 6-8 years before they will see starting minutes in big games for the Nats.


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