Photo by Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
D.C. United have cemented their spot atop the Eastern Conference while dooming the Houston Dynamo to an early exit.
The Eastern Conference leaders all but clinched the conference’s number one seed Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium with a 3-1 victory over the Dynamo, who saw their playoff hopes come to an end with the loss.
After a weather delay that disjointed the game’s opening half, D.C. United opened the scoring just before halftime via a finish from Taylor Kemp.
Kemp’s 41st minute finish came just seconds after Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric came off his line to disrupt a Chris Pontius chance. Unfortunately for Deric, the ball found its way to Kemp while the Dynamo goalkeeper was stuck in no land, leaving Kemp with an open net for a simple finish.
Despite a controversial handball call and then non-call against D.C. United late in the first-half, it was D.C. United that provided what was essentially the dagger to the Dynamo’s season in the 65th minute.
The Dynamo’s hopes were all but extinguished by a Fabian Espindola finish, as the D.C. United forward galloped on a 60-yard run following a clearance before chipping up and over Deric to push the lead to two.
The visitors gave themselves hope in the 81st minute via a Giles Barnes penalty kick, but substitute Eddie Johnson added D.C. United’s third in the 87th minute to put an exclamation point on the D.C. United victory.
With the win, D.C. United open up a six point lead atop the Eastern Conference with just two games to play. The number-one-seed-to-be are back in action Saturday against the Chicago Fire, while the Dynamo still have plenty of say in regards to the playoff positions of others in their clash with the New England Revolution Thursday.
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