As far as excitement goes, it would be tough to top the Philadelphia Union and Houston Dynamo on Sunday at PPL Park. There was a full house on hand and all the tension that goes along with a playoff game, plus goals, balls cleared off the line, pushing and shoving, shots off the crossbar and eventually, a road win. Yup, the Dynamo just barely held on at the end to come away 2-1 winners over the Union and put them right on pace to advance to the Eastern Conference final when they return home for the second leg on Wednesday.
The fun started in the fourth minute when Gabriel Farfan kicked Danny Cruz in the head. For reasons only referee Jair Marrufo knows, Farfan was not sent off. The kick was worth it though because the ensuing free kick saw Brad Davis whip a gorgeous ball onto the head of Adrian Hainault. The big defender just nodded it home and the Dynamo were in front right away.
Even quicker than Houston could score though, Philadelphia had an answer. Michael Farfan threaded a perfect ball through to Sebastien Le Toux, putting the Frenchman in on goal. He finished easily and just 90 seconds after falling behind, the Union were even again.
The Union may have been even again on the scoreboard, but they weren't as good as the Dynamo. The visitors were carrying the play to Philadelphia and it paid off at the half-hour mark when Brian Ching held the ball up before deftly chipping the ball to a streaking Calen Carr. The speed demon was in clear and he knocked the ball home to restore Houston's advantage.
It could have easily been more for the Dynamo, but as dominant as they were in the first half, the Union were that dominant after the hour mark. They brought Jack McInerney, Roger Torres and Freddy Adu on, changing the match. The Union forced the Dynamo to clear a ball off the line, twice just missed the net and McInerney hit the crossbar another time. It was all Union, but they couldn't find an equalizer and were left to wonder what would have happened if they brought their subs in earlier.
Now, Philadelphia will have to go to Houston and get a win. A loss or draw will see their season come to an end and the Dynamo move onto the Eastern Conference final.