For a second consecutive season, the Houston Dynamo fell short at the last hurdle, with the same foe in their way.
One year after losing the MLS Cup to the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, the Dynamo, again, fell to the same team in the same game at the same place.
"To be honest, I don't know if I want to cry or throw up -- one of the two," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said in the post-match press conference.
It wasn't just the similarities to MLS Cup 2011 that will haunt the Dynamo though, it was the differences.
Last year, the Dynamo were outplayed throughout the game before conceding a late Landon Donovan goal to lose the match 1-0. This year, Houston came out firing, pressing the Galaxy at every instance and taking a deserved lead just before halftime through Calen Carr.
"I think this year is different than last year," Kinnear said. "Last year you can hold your hand up and say we didn't really get going. We played well today, we gave ourselves a chance to win the game and that's the tough part."
The turning point in the match came in a five minute stretch between minutes 60 to 65. Omar Gonzalez's headed equalizer set the Home Depot Center crowd off, and then the Galaxy turned the screw, pushing forward to win a penalty which Landon Donovan buried. In an instant, the home team had a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"They did grab momentum," Kinnear said. "It's a set piece, it's a good header by Gonzalez and then they had their two penalties. They made the most of their pressure and got some breaks and unfortunately we were off just enough to not get another goal."
Though the Dynamo had a couple half-chances late in the match, they couldn't recover from that five minute stretch midway through the second half.
"Without a doubt it's difficult," Dynamo captain Brad Davis said. "It's very difficult, to say it's more difficult than last year, I don't know. It's not a good feeling no matter when it is."
Following another impressive post-season run that came up just short, it will be back to the drawing board for the Dynamo, who will have ample motivation to avoid a third consecutive heartbreak in 2013.
"This is a group of guys that is now going to be ready to turn things around and definitely get back to work and try and make things right for next year," Davis said. "I'm definitely bummed right now but without a doubt looking forward to try and make things right come next year."
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