Nov 10, 2012, 3:45 PM EST
Both teams are coming off massive achievement, as fifth-seeded Houston upset top-seeded Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference semifinals while United gutted out that memorable 1-0 win at New York to secure the other conference semifinal.
Houston is not a place where D.C. United has done well, and two matches this year year were dropped by a combined 5-0.
Then again, Ben Olsen’s club has that little feel of “destiny” around them, and they sure haven’t done much losing lately.
The clubs meet Sunday downtown in Houston to kick off the home-and-away, total goals series.
Eastern Conference finals: first of two legs
Sunday’s Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET, BBVA Compass Stadium, NBC Sports Network
On D.C. United
- Talk about getting things right at the exact, right time: United is 6-0-3 since early September. They’ve forgotten what it feels like to lose!
- This will be United’s third trip into BBVA Compass Stadium – and the downtown ground of abundant orange paint hasn’t been kind to Olsen’s boys. They were Houston’s first victims in the brand new ground back in May. And a meeting in South Texas in July went wrong in all kinds of ways for D.C., who finished on the wrong end of a 4-0 whuppin.
- Overall, United is 0-8-1 in Houston. Hard to feel good about something like that.
- United will be without Andy Najar, who received an additional two-game suspension following his unwise actions in the opening leg of his team’s series win over New York. That means Robbie Russell at right back again. He’s probably a better defender, but Russell doesn’t pose anything close to the threat Najar does going forward.
- Last time these teams met in Houston, Bill Hamid charged out wildly to take down Mac Kandji, leaving his team a man down and facing a penalty kick. He won’t be around to do so this time; against New York on Thursday, Hamid charged out wildly to take down Kenny Cooper, leaving his team a man down and facing a penalty kick.
- Here’s a recap of the 4-0 loss.
- Backup goalkeeper Joe Willis, based on his solid work earlier this year in Hamid’s absence, is not a huge dropoff in quality.
- If Chris Korb is healthy enough, he will start Sunday at left back, where he did so well as United opened the playoffs. If not, it’s probably Lewis Neal’s job again.
- Every day that goes by, we inch a little closer to a possible Dwayne De Rosario sighting in the playoffs.
- United has one day rest fewer than the home team; that’s courtesy of the second big storm to batter the East Coast over two weeks, this one a big snow dumper that forced a 24-hour postponement of the teams’ match, which was scheduled for Wednesday in New Jersey.
- What to say at this point about Houston, a team that simply knows how to grind out playoff results? The Orange went to Chicago and found a way to get by the Fire. They hustled and bustled their way to two goals and a sizeable mental edge in a mess of a match against Kansas City down in Houston, then held on for dear, sweet life in the return leg at Livestrong Sporting Park.
- Houston still has not lost a competitive match inside BBVA Compass Stadium.
- Center back Jermaine Taylor is back at training but remains questionable. Andrew Hainault, who played well in Wednesday’s series second leg in Kansas City will fill in again if Taylor, a Jamaican international, cannot make it.
- Starting forward Calen Carr, who left Wednesday’s match with a hamstring injury, looks in serious doubt.
- One man well rested for the Dynamo: veteran striker Brian Ching, who played just nine minutes over two legs against Sporting Kansas City. Given the injury to Carr, could we see a start from the veteran, former U.S. international? Either way, this will surely be Ching’s last match in Houston, as he seems set to retire at year’s end. (Houston is the one playoff team remaining that has no chance of hosting MLS Cup 2012.)
- Dominic Kinnear and his Dynamo are 180 minutes from appearing their second consecutive MLS Cup final. (They fell to L.A. last year at the Home Depot Center.)
- Houston has allowed 12 goals in 18 regular season and playoff games at BBVA. That’s just ridiculous.
- The Dynamo has arrived into a conference final for the fifth time in seven seasons.
- Just watch Sunday and see how much ground Ricardo Clark covers from his central midfield position.
- Goalkeeper Tally Hall has allowed four goals in six playoff matches. That’s heady stuff, especially considering Hall is just a second-year starter, having apprenticed under Pat Onstad. (Onstad, by the way, is now a D.C. United assistant.)
Who could blame either team for not finding their best level in this one? Given the physical demands on both teams in matches that stretched their limits in intensity and stamina, there’s every reason to expect cautious approaches and probably some sluggish legs Sunday.
Temperatures in the 80s with typical Houston mugginess won’t help, and it could be a particular hindrance to United, a side coming from a match where kickoff weather was about 40 degrees cooler.
Dynamo playoff matches don’t tend to deliver many goals, so this one has 1-0 written all over it. Considering history and the additional day of rest, this one certainly leans toward the Dynamo.
Bonus: the way EA Sports sees it playing out
.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Dec 5, 2013, 10:40 AM EST
“I can’t really see women in football. I don’t like to say it but that’s how it is,” Gattuso said.
Dec 5, 2013, 9:05 AM EST
“The impact of one of the studs on the thigh bone in the right leg has caused extensive hemorrhaging,” the Bayern doctor said.
Dec 5, 2013, 7:59 AM EST
In this article we provide everything you need to know about Friday’s World Cup Draw.
Dec 5, 2013, 7:18 AM EST
An alternative look at all the PL action from match day 14:
Dec 5, 2013, 12:42 AM EST
Four weeks ago, Benny Feilhaber wasn’t starting for Kansas City. Now, the former U.S. international’s experiencing a postseason revival.
Dec 4, 2013, 11:18 PM EST
Nine matches. 32 goals. All in one place.
Dec 4, 2013, 10:15 PM EST
Olave, Johnson, and Espindola left, but despite what this year’s narrative said, RSL didn’t rebuild. They merely reloaded.
Dec 4, 2013, 9:33 PM EST
What do you remember about the team’s penalty kick win over the LA Galaxy?
Dec 4, 2013, 8:41 PM EST
Peter Vermes’ MLS Cup finalist can still press and pressure – but there are more winning ways in the playbook now:
Dec 4, 2013, 7:53 PM EST
Back at RFK at the turn of the new Millennium, staunch defense helped KC to its one and only MLS Cup:
Dec 4, 2013, 7:02 PM EST
Arsenal stays four clear while Everton sparks debate as to whether they upgraded after David Moyes’ departure.
Dec 4, 2013, 5:48 PM EST
Moyes says lack of “fortune” hurt United after Red Devils lose yet another home game:
Dec 4, 2013, 5:31 PM EST
The visitors hit Southampton with quick breaks, coming away with a win and proving that possession is, in fact, just nine-tenths of the law.
West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Manchester City: Citizens address road worries with convincing performance at The Hawthorns
Dec 4, 2013, 5:20 PM EST
Two from Yaya Touré and an opener from Kun Agüero helped City address their road demons.
Dec 4, 2013, 5:09 PM EST
Spurs sent a dagger into the hearts of Fulham fans, who saw their club put in an inspired performance only to be sunk by a pair of beautiful strikes from unlikely heroes.
Dec 4, 2013, 5:03 PM EST
Hazard’s masterclass pushes Chelsea over the line against spirited Black Cats:
Dec 4, 2013, 4:55 PM EST
Four goals and an assist for Luis Suárez as Liverpool ran wild over Norwich.
Dec 4, 2013, 4:51 PM EST
Gunners keep firing as they stay top of the tree with comfortable win over Tigers:
Dec 4, 2013, 4:50 PM EST
Peter Crouch and company failed to produce a breakthrough despite owning nearly every chance and plenty of possession.
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Everything you need to know 2
- Premier League Playback: Moyes needs more, Suarez is Superman, Altidore (finally) off the mark 1
- The Benny Feilhaber Conundrum: Has Peter Vermes finally solved the puzzle? 1
- Real Salt Lake’s 2013: The not-so-rebuilding year that could end in an MLS title 1
- Premier League Roundup: Moyes defeated in Everton reunion; top five snag wins 1
- David Moyes bemoans bad luck as former side Everton come back to haunt him 1
- West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Manchester City: Citizens address road worries with convincing performance at The Hawthorns 0
- Sunderland 3-4 Chelsea: Blues grab crucial away win as Hazard dazzles (video) 0
- Sit down with Orlando City SC: Taking on Beckham, emulating the Timbers and Kaka in 2015 – Part I (21)
- USA drop one spot to 14th in latest FIFA World Rankings, Portugal surge to fifth (20)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (20)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (18)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (16)