The New York Red Bulls paid the ultimate cost for blowing a two-goal first-leg lead as Houston rallied to post a 2-1 overtime win that eliminated the Red Bulls from the playoffs.
Just three days after stunning the New York Red Bulls with a two-goal comeback to earn a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Dynamo finished the job of knocking off the best team in Major League Soccer during the regular season, riding an Omar Cummings overtime goal and the stellar goalkeeping of Tally Hall to a 2-1 victory and 3-2 aggregate series victory at Red Bull Arena.
Hall was Houston’s hero on a night he started out as the Dynamo’s goat. An uncharacteristic blunder by the veteran goalkeeper put Houston in an early hole, but he atoned for the mistake with a pair of stunning saves in each half to keep the Red Bulls from scoring again.
Cummings played the attacking hero for Houston for a second straight match, coming on as a second-half sub to find the net yet again, this time on a loose ball he was able to poke past Luis Robles for the series-winning goal.
The Dynamo will now face the winner of the Sporting Kansas City/New England Revolution series in the Eastern Conference final.
The first half was marked by a pair of clear-cut blunders that gifted both teams goals. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall committed an uncharacteristic error in the 23rd minute when he spilled a seemingly harmless cross from Lloyd Sam inside the penalty area. Bradley Wright-Phillips pounced on the loose ball to open the scoring.
The Red Bulls returned the favor in the 36th minute when defender Ibrahim Sekagya committed a terrible error by sending a pass across the top of his own penalty area. Dynamo captain Brad Davis picked the pass off and finished expertly to tie the score.
Hall redeemed himself just before halftime when he reacted instantly to a Thierry Henry shot that was re-directed at goal by Tim Cahill. Hall raised his right arm just in time to parry the dangerous shot.
Thierry Henry nearly made it 2-0 in the 65th minute when he headed a chance off the crossbar. It was that kind of night for the French star, who saw several looks wasted by poor finishing.
Hall kept the score 1-1 again in the 77th minute with another stunning reaction save, this time preventing a Giles Barnes own goal after Barnes accidentally sent a header toward his own net.
Hall denied Henry again in the 90th minute when he got his foot to a promising Henry bicycle kick, sending it just wide of the net.