Bob Levey

Houston Dynamo vs. DC United, 2012 MLS Playoffs: Dynamo open up commanding lead over DC

DC United grabbed an early lead against the Houston Dynamo, but a fantastic second half saw the hosts take the first leg of the East Conference Finals by a score of 3-1.

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Houston storms back to beat DC 3-1 in 1st leg

Houston scored three times in the second half to come back to beat shorthanded D.C., 3-1, in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final.

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Of course it is Hainault who levels for Houston

The Houston Dynamo have gotten level with D.C. United in the first leg of their Eastern Conference final thanks to Andre Hainault. The Canadian got on the end of a good, low pass from Boniek Garcia, which left him with a simple finish from close range to equalize at 1-1.

That it was Hainault who scored will certainly enrage the D.C. fans because he could have been sent off just before halftime for pulling down Rafael Augosto. He wasn't and he made his bit of fortune count by getting Houston back on level terms.

Houston got their goal because D.C. fell asleep and turned their backs to the play. The Dynamo took a quick throw-in on the left, which D.C. wasn't paying attention to. By the time they woke up, Garcia was racing down the left and crossing for Hainault for the goal.

With the match even again, D.C. is going to have to reevaluate their approach. They are without Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario and Andy Najar, yet they have still attacked. At this point, they might want to play for the draw and take their chances back at home in the second leg.

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Nick DeLeon puts shorthanded D.C. in front

Most expected D.C. United to be content with a draw in the first leg of their Eastern Conference final and once Chris Pontius went down injured, joining Dwayne De Rosario and Andy Najar on the sidelines, a conservative approach seemed a given. That hasn't been the case, though, and D.C.'s aggressiveness has paid off in the form of a Nick DeLeon goal that has them up 1-0 on the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The goal was only possible because the Dynamo defense was out of sorts and allowed Lionard Pajoy to run in behind the back line with ease. He cut in from the left and picked out the far post, literally, hitting the bar. The ball bounced to DeLeon, though, who hit the ball first touch. It looked like the ball was heading wide of the goal, but it deflected off of Andre Hainault and found the net to put the visitors in front.

DeLeon might lose the goal with it be called an own goal instead, but that doesn't matter. What is important is that shorthanded D.C. lead 1-0 on the road in the first leg.

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Pontius hurts groin, subbed off in 12th minute

Chris Pontius had to come out int he 12th minute of D.C. United's Eastern Conference final first leg against the Houston Dynamo.

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No Rico Clark for Houston, D.C. lineup as expected

The Houston Dynamo are the popular pick to win the Eastern Conference and return to MLS Cup, and for good reason. They are led by Dominic Kinnear, one of the best managers in the league, and are full of experience. They are playing extremely well, too, having just taken out the conference's top seed, Kansas City, in the last round. Add in an unbeaten home mark this season and there is a lot of reason to believe in Houston.

D.C. United doesn't have as much going for them. They did beat New York, a heated rival, on the road to get to the Eastern Conference final, but they don't have a ton of experience and are playing without their best player, Dwayne De Rosario. Still, they have made their late run this season without De Rosario, playing ugly, but effective soccer to get within a round of MLS Cup.

In today's first leg at BBVA Compass Stadium, D.C. will be happy if Houston can keep their unbeaten home mark going with a draw. If they can go home in the second leg needing any win to advance, they will have done their job. That means they will come out even more conservative than usual, which suits Houston just fine. The Dynamo are without the injured Ricardo Clark so anything that eases the load on their midfield will be welcome.

Houston Dynamo (4-4-2): Hall; Sarkodie, Boswell, Hainault, Ashe; Garcia, Moffat, Camargo, Davis; Bruin, Kandji

D.C. United (4-5-1): Willis; Russell, Jakovic, McDonald, Korb; DeLeon, Kitchen, Saragosa, Boskovic, Pontius; Pajoy

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