Houston Dynamo Vs. Philadelphia Union, MLS Cup Playoffs 2011: Dynamo Through To Conference Finals

A goal by Brian Ching on a set piece sealed the deal for the Houston Dynamo, as they defeated the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate

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Houston Dynamo Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs: Full Time, Dynamo Advance To Conference Finals

The Philadelphia Union are out of the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, while the Houston Dynamo are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. Thanks to their 1-0 win on Thursday night, which gave them a 3-1 aggregate win in the series, the Dynamo will advance to play Sporting Kansas City away at Livestrong Sporting Park.

Thursday night's only goal came from the most predictable manner possible. The Union's big central defenders should be able to nullify a team's threat on set pieces, but they had no answer for Brad Davis and Brian Ching, perhaps the best set piece combination in MLS. In the second minute of stoppage time, Davis delivered an out-swinging free kick with his left foot from the left side of the pitch, and an unmarked Ching went up to get the ball, heading it past Faryd Mondragon.

The game was a physical one throughout, with the Dynamo working to protect the lead they acquired over the weekend at PPL Park. Though they selected an incredibly attacking lineup, the Union struggled to create chances and the Dynamo's clean sheet never looked like it was going to be dirtied.

For more news and analysis, be sure to visit our Philadelphia Union blog the Brotherly Game and our Houston Dynamo blog Dynamo Theory. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Cup Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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Houston Dynamo Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs: Brian Ching Goal All But Seals The Deal At Halftime

For 45 minutes, Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo executed his gameplan (or supposed gameplan) perfectly. The Union had more of the ball and pushed bodies forward, but created absolutely no chances. Not even a single solid half-chance. The Dynamo held their shape well and defended perfectly. The way they were playing, they were obviously content to go into halftime tied 0-0 with the Philadelphia Union. And then, in the second minute of stoppage time, they went ahead.

Brad Davis delivered yet another fantastic free kick into the box in second half stoppage time, and notched yet another assist when Brian Ching headed the ball into the back of the net to give his team a 3-1 aggregate lead. Ching was unmarked on the goal, which is pretty remarkable. A 6'2" striker who played his way to 40-plus USMNT caps primarily off of his work rate and his ability to win headers in traffic was unmarked on a set piece.

And for that, the Union probably deserve to be eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs.

For more news and analysis, be sure to visit our Philadelphia Union blog the Brotherly Game and our Houston Dynamo blog Dynamo Theory. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Cup Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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Houston Dynamo Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs: Lineups

The Philadelphia Union enter the second leg of their playoff series against the Houston Dynamo trailing by a goal after losing at home. Peter Nowak isn't taking a conservative approach and trying to win 1-0. Hell, he's not even trying to win 2-0. A 5-4 victory will do just nicely for the Union. They list their starting lineup as a 4-4-2, but are playing four strikers, a winger, and a holding midfielder. More likely than not, Sebastian Le Toux will move to the wing and Veljko Paunovic will move to the center of midfield, but who knows. The Dynamo's lineup is a bit more conventional. Here are the lineups.

Houston Dynamo Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Tally Hall; Andrew Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe; Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Brad Davis; Brian Ching, Calen Carr

Substitutes: Tyler Deric, Jermaine Taylor, Je-Vaughn Watson, Hunter Freeman, Carlo Costly, Will Bruin, Alex Dixon

Philadelphia Union Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon; Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams; Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Veljko Paunovic, Sebastian Le Toux; Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney

Substitutes: Zac MacMath, Justin Mapp, Roger Torres, Freddy Adu, Kyle Nakazawa, Amobi Okugo, Stefani Miglioranzi

Kickoff is at 8:30 pm ET, 7:30 pm local time. The game can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN3 in the USA, as well as ESPN Deportes in Spanish, TSN2 in Canada, and ESPN in the UK.

For more news and analysis, be sure to visit our Philadelphia Union blog the Brotherly Game and our Houston Dynamo blog Dynamo Theory. For more on the entire world of soccer and the rest of the MLS Cup Playoffs, check out SB Nation Soccer.

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