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November 18, 2012 4:00 PM EST
RFK Stadium
Referee:‬ B. Toledo‎
Thanks for following along with us today, and be sure to check back on Goal.com for more postgame reaction and coverage of the 2012 MLS playoffs, which continue tonight with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders as they battle for the right to host Houston in the MLS Cup final. Take care everybody!
90′ +4
And there's the final whistle!! The Houston Dynamo are the 2012 MLS Eastern Conference champions and will head back to MLS Cup for a second straight year and the fourth time in seven years.
90′ +4
Salihi tries an audacious bicycle kick attempt from about eight yards out but has it blocked. Only seconds remain.
90′ +3
Korb sends in a hopeful cross from the left that falls into Hall's waiting arms. A minute remains in this one.
90′ +1
Into the first of 4 minutes of stoppage time. D.C.'s season on the brink, Houston can sense a trip out west for MLS Cup.
SAVE HALL!! De Rosario had a GREAT look from the top of the box, but he scuffed his chance, and Hall was able to get down to his right to collect it.
Hall AGAIN comes out to take away a flicked-on header, this time beating De Rosario to the ball at the edge of the 6.
Santos flicks on Boskovic's deep ball toward goal, but Hall is in the right spot again to claim it and thwart the attack.
Neal loops in an in-swinging cross from the right, but Hall claims it with confidence as he has all night. Dynamo in full-on clock-killing mode.
SAVE HALL!! Neal was WIDE OPEN inside the area after a deflected pass, but he laced his shot RIGHT at the keeper from a right-sided angle.
Giles Barnes checks in for Brad Davis as Houston's final sub. The crowd has come to life here, but D.C.'s task remains tall.
Substitution Brad Davis Giles Barnes
D.C. has a pulse for the final 7 minutes after Boskovic weaved through the defense in the box and tucked a low shot inside the near post with his weaker right foot. 1-1 on the day, 4-2 Houston on aggregate. D.C. still needs 2 to send this to extra time.
Goal Branko Bošković
WEAVER almost chips Hamid from 45 yards after a bad connection between Jakovic and the goalkeeper gifted the reserve forward the ball with an empty net as Hamid tracked backward. His shot was a bit too high, though, and sailed out for a goal kick.
D.C. looks defeated as Houston possesses in the final third. Davis ends up winning a corner after having his attempt from the top of the area blocked by Jakovic.
SAVE HAMID!! ROBS Kandji on the breakaway by coming off his line and swatting away the forward's effort.
Substitution Will Bruin Cam Weaver
Dominic Kinnear goes back to his bench, taking off Will Bruin for Cam Weaver. Considering that Brad Davis missed last year's MLS Cup final, perhaps he'll want to think about taking him off to not risk an injury over the final 13 minutes. The Dynamo seem to have this all wrapped up.
SAVE HAMID! Boniek Garcia went low to get a header on frame, but he sent it right at the D.C. goalkeeper.
Another D.C. cross into the box, another emphatic Houston header to clear.
This game has really opened up with D.C. throwing so many numbers forward. Kandji wrestled the ball away from Lewis Neal and went right down the center before lacing a 20-yard blast just wide left of the goal.
SAVE HALL!! Salihi's turning volley gets laced right at the Dynamo goalkeeper after Bruin inexplicably heads the ball from about midfield deep toward his own end.
SANTOS heads wide!! De Rosario's cross to the top of the 6 is well placed, but Santos can't direct it on frame. Chances coming at a furious pace for the hosts.
And Salihi has another failed opportunity in the box! Instead of having a go at goal, he tried to cut back to create space, allowing time for a defender to recover and put the ball out of play. D.C.'s Designated Player has to do better on both of those chances.
SALIHI almost has a golden chance! But his first touch lets him down! Santos may have gotten the slightest touch to flick him in on goal, but his touch put the ball into the path of Tally Hall
De Rosario chips forward over the defense, but not D.C. teammate is making a run and Hall will take his time to set up the goal kick. Minimal impact from De Rosario in his first few minutes back on the field.
Substitution Ricardo Clark Luiz Camargo
Luiz Camargo comes on for Ricardo Clark as the Dynamo's first substitute.
DeLeon has shifted into a right-back role, but he will most definitely be advancing forward whenever he can. De Rosario stationed behind Salihi and Santos as the Dynamo continue to keep numbers behind the ball and look for the counter.
Substitution Emiliano Ariel Dudar Dwayne De Rosario
And here comes De Rosario. D.C.'s captain will enter for Emiliano Dudar, as Ben Olsen goes to three men in the back.
Boskovic has an effort from the top of the area get deflected right to Hall for the simple save.
Houston now buzzing about with the ball, looking like a team worthy of advancing to the final. Dynamo now the ones quicker to the loose balls and passing with crispness.
De Rosario just took off his warm-up gear and looks set to enter the match in the coming moments. it will be the Canadian international's first game action since Sept. 7 and it will be D.C.'s final substitution. Houston still has all three in the holster.
Substitution L. Pajoy Hamdi Salihi
Dudar does well to mark Bruin 1-v-1 on a Dynamo counterattack after a turnover in the middle of the field, forcing a goal kick.
Pajoy takes his time after receiving the ball in the box with his back to goal, turns and has it taken off his foot by Jermaine Taylor. That's his last contribution of the match as he comes off for Salihi.
20,015 is tonight's announced, sell-out attendance.
Hamdi Salihi getting set to check on for D.C. Either Santos or Pajoy should be giving way at the next stoppage.
D.C. still enjoying the bulk of the possession (had a 57-43 edge in the first half), but Houston's defense has not taken a wrong step in warding off all threats. It's going to take something crisp and new to break down this orange line of defense.
CLOSE for Houston off the counter. Bruin races onto a ball out of the back and holds it up well before finding a streaking Davis at the top of the area. The captain couldn't get a clean hit, though, and Hamid gobbled up the low effort.
CLOSE for Houston off the counter. Bruin races onto a ball out of the back and holds it up well before finding a streaking Davis at the top of the area. The captain couldn't get a clean hit, though, and Hamid gobbled up the low effort.
Korb chipped in a cross from the left that Pajoy tried to bring down at the edge of the 6, and Russell was there to clean it up but could not put it on frame. That would have made things quite interesting.
RUSSELL VOLLEYS HIGH!! From the doorstep!
Substitution Marcelo Saragosa Lewis Neal
Lewis Neal enters for Marcelo Saragosa as the only halftime substitute. No De Rosario yet for D.C. as the second half gets underway.
Houston, meanwhile, executed its game plan to perfection. Defended with organization, confidence; Got forward when necessary; Scored the opening goal to take the crowd out of the game and put D.C. on its heels.
D.C. has a huge mountain to climb in the next 45 minutes. The hosts have Dwayne De Rosario and Hamdi Salihi as attacking options on the bench, and Ben Olsen may have no choice but to opt for them coming out of the locker room.
Russell whips a cross in from the right, but it goes through the area untouched, and that's how this half will end.
One minute of stoppage time.
Offside flag comes up for Maicon Santos, whose finish into the net will be waved off as it came well after the whistle. Few missteps from Houston's organized defense in this opening half.
Hall confidently and aggressively races off his line to snag a long ball to the top of the area. D.C. getting a little desperate in the late stages of this half.
Jermaine Taylor beats Santos to Korb's lofted ball over the top into the box, preventing a would-be look at goal.
Houston managing to keep the ball in D.C.'s end, doing a great job of killing off the half.
Boskovic gets a free kick from about 40 yards that Kitchen flicks out of play for a goal kick.
If D.C. can manage to nick one back before halftime, that would make things extremely interesting, especially with De Rosario looming on the bench. A three-goal half against a disciplined Dynamo side that will be able to regroup and refocus is a big ask, otherwise.
Frustration starting to show for Pajoy, who elbows Kofi Sarkodie down from behind and then expresses his displeasure to referee Baldomero Toldeo. He gets away with a warning.
Houston now leads on a 4-1 aggregate, and D.C. needs three goals just to send this tie to extra time.
Goal B. García
HUGE goal for the Dynamo, as Brad Davis gets by Dejan Jakovic to the end line and cuts back for the Honduran, who laced it under the crossbar.
Boswell comes up big again for the Dynamo, intercepting a would-be through ball from Santos to Pajoy.
HALL comes up with a leaping snare of Santos' header after a cross gets sent in by Robbie Russell. Even though D.C. had a look at goal there, the hosts are perhaps a little to particular about taking their chances. DeLeon looked to have had space to turn and fire from the top of the box before deferring for Russell.
D.C. comes up with another almost-chance, as Santos can't touch the ball clean enough to get a good look from the top of the area before playing it wide for a cross that Boskovic heads to the left of the goal.
The flag goes up on Mac Kandji, who was offside as Davis tried to catch him on the counter down the left side. This Houston team is very capable on the counter, more so than last year's MLS Cup finalists.
DeLeon and Boskovic have swapped flanks, with Boskovic coming to his more favored left side, and DeLeon moving over to the right
D.C. has been exerting a ton of energy in the opening portion of this game, moving the ball well and flying over the field to claim loose balls and 50-50 ones. Certainly playing with a continued sense of urgency.
Half chance for D.C. as Korb does decent work down the left and has a cross deflect in toward Pajoy. His flicked-on header goes to the edge of the 6-yard box, where Hall outleaps Santos to claim the ball.
D.C. nearly gets caught on the counterattack, with Will Bruin slipping the ball out right for Garcia. His cross gets blocked by Korb but comes right out to Brad Davis at the top of the box. Kitchen hustles to cover the ground and doesn't let Houston's captain put a shot on frame.
Boskovic seeks out Santos in the area, but Moffat is bodying him up and has solid position to box out the forward and have the ball sail out of play for a goal kick. Houston has managed to survive D.C.'s early barrage, which is undoubtedly a key element to its success today.
Pajoy does some decent hold-up work but then gets muscled off the ball by former D.C. defender Bobby Boswell, who has been one of the defensive stars of the playoffs across the league.
Branko Boskovic's effort was aimed for Emiliano Dudar, but Houston was able to clear the danger.
Pajoy sends in a cross from the left that gets put out for a D.C. corner. First one of the match.
Heck of a play by Korb, who burned DP Oscar Boniek Garica to get some space down the left before having a go. D.C. playing with confidence and purpose from the get-go
SAVE TALLY HALL!! Left back Chris Korb just took an uncharacteristic RIP from 25 yards, and the Dynamo keeper was equal to the task with a diving save to parry it away.
After that initial push, Houston has not seen much of the ball. Then again, the Dynamo are not the ones who need to score today, they just need to keep it out of their own net.
D.C. maintains its pressure, with Santos and Lionard Pajoy linking up in the attacking third before Houston cuts out a cross and Perry Kitchen is whistled for a foul at the top of the area.
D.C. gets its first chance going forward, with Nick DeLeon spotting Chris Korb for the overlapping run down the left, his cross for Maicon Santos is headed by the far post but then cleared away by the Houston defense.
Houston comes out pretty aggressively, with Adam Moffat lacing a shot just wide of Bill Hamid's goal. The Dynamo were almost made to pay for their reluctance to be aggressive in the second leg of the last round and in the early going have shown a different approach.
Baldomero Toledo is the referee today, and his first foul call against D.C. does not go over well with the home supporters, who are still bitter over the non-red-card call on Andre Hainault from the first leg of this series.
And we are underway at RFK Stadium.
D.C.'s fans just unfurled a giant "You Can't Hold Us Back" tifo, building off of goalkeeper Bill Hamid's now famous antics in the hallway and locker room at Red Bull Arena, when he invented the rallying cry for the Black and Red with a "They Can't Hold Us Back!" mini-rant.
The big questions today: Will Houston sit back and defend its lead like it did to a successful degree in the conference semifinals against Sporting Kansas City? And will Dwayne De Rosario add another chapter to his illustrious career with a dramatic contribution off the bench?
The big questions today: Will Houston sit back and defend its lead like it did to a successful degree in the conference semifinals against Sporting Kansas City? And will Dwayne De Rosario add another chapter to his illustrious career with a dramatic contribution off the bench?
The Eastern Conference championship trophy is being brought to a podium by D.C. greats John Harkes, Eddie Pope and Jaime Moreno, as both teams will walk past today's prize as they go into the processional.
D.C.'s fans are already boisterous as first kick approaches, with the supporters groups all wearing black as part of a crowd "Blackout"
As a reminder, if D.C. United manages to climb this hill and overcome the deficit, MLS Cup will be held at RFK Stadium on Dec. 1. If not, the winner of the Los Angeles-Seattle Western Conference final (LA leads 3-0 after the first leg) will host the final, with a potential LA-Houston rematch of last year's championship a strong possibility.
D.C. announced that a sellout crowd will be on hand here at RFK Stadium on a brisk fall afternoon. The club was selling standing-room tickets as of today.
Dwayne De Rosario does not make the starting lineup, but he is available off the bench for the first time since spraining his MCL about 10 weeks ago while on international duty with Canada. He is joined on the D.C. bench by Joe Willis, Brandon McDonald, Daniel Woolard, Raphael Augusto, Lewis Neal and Hamdi Salihi. Chris Pontius (groin) is out altogether, which is a big blow for D.C.'s attack.
D.C.'s starters are: GK - Bill Hamid DEF - Robbie Russell, Dejan Jakovic, Emiliano Dudar, Chris Korb MID - Branko Boskovic, Perry Kitchen, Marcelo Saragosa, Nick DeLeon FWD - Maicon Santos, Lionard Pajoy
Moffat, Clark and Taylor were all injury worries for the Dynamo, but they all make the start. Calen Carr misses out altogether with his hamstring injury. As for the Dynamo subs, coach Dominic Kinnear has Giles Barnes, Luiz Camargo, Brian Ching, Andre Hainault, Cam Weaver, Warren Creavalle and Tyler Deric available off the bench.
GK - Tally Hall DEF - Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Corey Ashe MID - Oscar Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis FWD - Will Bruin, Mac Kandji
Here are the lineups for today's match: First for the visiting Houston Dynamo:
Houston carries a 3-1 aggregate lead into today's game, needing to hold on to advance to MLS Cup for the second straight year and fourth time in seven years.
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of today's MLS Eastern Conference final second leg between D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo.
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Player   Goals Penalties
E. Torres E. Torres
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Clint Dempsey Clint Dempsey
Seattle Sounders
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V. Sánchez V. Sánchez
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Federico Higuaín Federico Higuaín
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Bradley Wright-Phillips Bradley Wright-Phillips
NY Red Bulls
4 1