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