Philadelphia vs. Houston: Dynamo Out-Doop Union

On Saturday afternoon at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union celebrated many post-season firsts. They not only played in their first-ever playoff game, but hosted the first playoff game at PPL as well. With the sold-out stadium packed with fans (and many celebrities), Philadelphia was also looking for its first playoff win in team history.

Philadelphia entered the game with a 2-0-2 record against Houston (all-time). For those of you who aren’t familiar with the MLS playoff format, each playoff match-up consists of two games, one at home, and one on the road. At the end of the two games, the team with the most total goals wins. The tie-breaker is goals scored on the road.

The crowd rose to a fever pitch as the match started but a mere five minutes into regulation, the Dynamo scored the game’s opening goal (the first ever playoff goal at PPL Park) when Brad Davis connected on a long assist to Andre Hainault, whose header found the back of the net.

Less than two minutes later, Sébastien Le Toux drove the ball past Houston GK Tally Hall (on a nice pass from Michael Farfan) and tied the game on the Union’s inaugural playoff goal.

The game remained knotted at 1-1 until the 30th minute when Calen Carr beat Faryd Mondragón to put the Dynamo back in front 2-1. The Union put four more balls on net in the final fifteen minutes of the half but were  unable to tie to game and went into the break still trailing.

In the second half, subs Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, and Freddy Adu all had scoring opportunities but were unable to draw even with Houston. At the end of the match the score remained 2-1 in favor of the Dynamo, putting the Union into a tough spot when the contest resumes in Houston on Thursday night. If the Union want to record their first ever road playoff victory and advance to the next round, they’ll have to capitalize on more of their scoring chances.

[photo credits: Christian Hafer]

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