Eric Christian Smith
The Dynamo knocked Sporting out of the playoffs last year and while it is just the first leg, they looked much better again this year in a 2-0 win.
The Houston Dynamo looked every bit the confident and experience playoff team that Dominic Kinnear has built them to be on Sunday afternoon. They took the game to Sporting Kansas City, created all of the chances and frustrating the visitors. In the end, the scoreboard reflected their dominance, too, showing a 2-0 Dynamo win that sends the tie to Kansas City with Sporting facing a steep uphill battle.
The match looked a lot like last year's Eastern Conference final, which the Dynamo won to book their spot in MLS Cup and eliminate Sporting. Once again, Houston frustrated Kansas City and Sporting did not have an answer. This time it is a round earlier, the Eastern Conference semis, but if Sporting can't change things up, they will go out at the hands of the Dynamo again.
Houston went in front thanks to a sublime 18th minute strike by Adam Moffat. The Scotsman, who has built a reputation on his long range rockets, topped anything he has ever done before by twisting to get his body around the ball and unleashing a missile that left Jimmy Nielsen without a chance.
Meanwhile, Kansas City couldn't muster any sort of consistent possession, attack or really anything that resembled competent play. Houston kept putting the ball at the feet of center backs Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin, which would have been fine if the Sporting fullbacks weren't way up the pitch and the central midfielders made themselves available, but they didn't. Meanwhile, Ricardo Clark drifted wide to close down Graham Zusi and Moffat held down the middle to completely shut down the Kansas City attack, limiting them to hopeful long balls that didn't threaten the Houston goal.
But for all of their dominance, Houston only led by a goal. That would have been an acceptable result, but not what they deserved and would have given Kansas City a pretty reasonable chance in the second leg at home. That reasonable chance went away in the 75th minute when Will Bruin got Houston a deserved second goal.
A throw in got Calen Carr some space down the left and after beating Collin, he crossed for Bruin, who was unmarked five yards out. Carr put the ball right on Bruin's foot and the striker finished easily, igniting the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium, where the Dynamo remain undefeated with their first ever playoff win at the venue.
The second leg will be played Wednesday at Livestrong Sporting Park. It gets underway at 9 p.m. ET.