By Rad Rich
In Major League Soccer, the Houston Dynamo made it to the Eastern Conference Championship, and are one game away from going to the MLS Cup 2013 for the fifth time in their history.
Let’s go back though! They defeated the Montreal Impact and took on the New York Red Bull, who were the number one seed in the west. Houston where able to come back from a 2-0 deficit in there home game to draw 2-2. The away game in New York was just as exciting as it took extra time to decide a winner. Houston’s Omar Cummings scored 14 minutes into extra time to give Houston the win and advancing them to there third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship and there sixth in eight years. In this match, Houston’s Goalkeeper Tally Hall had to be the man of the match, denying shot after shot by the likes of Red Bull star striker Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill.
Houston’s great run went into the first leg of the home and home series against Sporting Kansas City. The first leg was played in Houston last week. A sold out crowd was again on hand to greet the Dynamo, who were looking to take advantage of there strong record at home. But though the Houston Dynamo had several chances, they were unable to score as the result was 0-0. This is the third time this season the 2 teams have played each other to a draw. Houston’s Tally Hall had two saves, and that made him the franchise leader in shutouts, surpassing Pat Onstad who made four post season shutouts for the team. Houston are now 9-1-2 in all-time home playoff games. This is the best home playoff record in the history of the league.
The series now shift to the next leg on the road in Kansas City Missouri at Sporting K.C. Because of the FIFA international break for World Cup qualifying matches this week the next leg is November 23. The winner goes on to the MLS Cup 2013 on December 7.
“Six games in less than three weeks is something incredible,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We knew it was going to come down to the second game in Kansas City anyways because of how close and competitive these teams are, but these guys deserve a break. Not only physically, but mentally as well, to get away and kind of recharge the batteries.” There are a lot of healing to do for the Houston Dynamo as they will use the down time for players like Ricardo Clark and Will Bruin.
In the Western Conference Final first leg, Real Salt Lake have the upper hand on the Portland Timber as they defeated Portland 4-2 at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. The next leg will be in Portland at the Jeld-Wen Field on November 24. Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter commented after the match, “We’re capable of going to another level and turning it up a notch where we can score goals,” Porter said, “We’ve shown that this year. … Obviously I wouldn’t have scripted it this way, this is not the way we wanted it to be. Obviously we were disappointed with the last game, but we know what we need to do.” Portland has a lot to do to turn around there two goal deficit. On the other side of things Real Salt Lake are looking forward to their next match as they have had the advantage over Portland all year long winning three games and drawing twice in past matches.
Now for some other news from the soccer world. This is time for the international break. On Wednesday, Mexico defeated new Zealand 5-1 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in the first leg of the intercontinental playoff. Forced to play in a World Cup qualifier playoff Mexico took advantage of their home advantage using players mostly made up of players in the Mexican League. Paul Agquilar scored the first goal for México in the 32 minute followed by goals by Raúl Jiménez 8 minutes later. The second half was more of the same as Oribe Peralta scored two more goals. Then came the return of the matador Rafa Márquez the former New York Red Bull who made it 5-0. It was his 14th goal with Mexico in his 115th career appearance. New Zealand scored there only goal in the match with Chris James scoring in the 85th minute. Now the home and home playoff shift to Wellington New Zealand on November 20th. That match will be at 12am. Mexico’s last-resort coach in Club América’s Miguel Herrera, used seven players from his own club in the starting lineup to get the job done. That puts Mexico closer to making it to Brazil.
The United States, who have already qualified for the world cup in Brazil this coming summer, will play Scotland today Friday at 2am in a friendly match at Hamden Park in Glasgow Scotland. U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks to try to get players use to the different tempos that they are not exposed to in the CONCACAF region. This also an opportunity for players to prove there worth in making the final team selection for Brazil. For Scotland, who did not qualify this year for World Cup In Brazil, this is a new start for Gordan Strachan. As manager in January, claiming two victories over Croatia. The colorful Strachan has moved the Scots away from the cautious mindset of his predecessor Craig Levein, and can call on a range of experienced talent in his domestic league as well as the English system to the south. He has hinted that he will give his fringe players opportunities against the United States, as he builds towards the onset of UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying in September 2014.
Quick note for Formula One in the United States Grand Prix is this weekend in Austin. Practice runs start today and time trials are Saturday with the race on Sunday. With one race left after this weekend, the German Sebastian Vettel has wrapped up the F1 title already. Mexican Sergio Perez was announced today that he will not return next year to drive for McLaren. Perez said today he is shocked by the announcement as he was looking to drive for them next year. He had already signed on last week he said. Fog has effected the start of practice runs so far today. Also, a delay was held because there was no medical helicopter at the track.