Dynamo-Red Bulls Preview
The New York Red Bulls have never lost a home match to the Houston Dynamo.
The Supporters' Shield winners will need to extend that unbeaten streak to 11 Wednesday night to reach the Eastern Conference championship after their last three seasons ended in the conference semifinals.
The Red Bulls topped MLS in the regular season with 59 points and are 6-0-4 all-time against the Dynamo on their own pitch. They need a win in the second leg of this series after blowing a two-goal lead and settling for a 2-all draw in Houston on Sunday.
"Judging by the feel right now, it feels like a loss because we were winning 2-0," goalkeeper Luis Robles said. "Now, we have to go home and we have to win. It's as simple as that."
Tim Cahill and Eric Alexander scored before halftime for the Red Bulls. Ricardo Clark made a game of it with his 51st-minute goal, and Omar Cummings tied it in the 92nd with a tap in after a Brad Davis corner kick.
"You will that one in," Cummings said. "You need a push, you need a point. You need to go to New York at least level if not better. That's the kind of goal you just will in."
The Red Bulls played down a man from the 65th minute on after center back Jamison Olave was shown a red card for a tackle from behind on Cummings. Olave won't play Wednesday, and New York is 2-3-2 without him in the starting 11.
"He's been our starter all year, but we have guys that need to step up in a big way on Wednesday," coach Mike Petke told the Red Bulls' official website. "Yeah, it's a big loss, but we'll deal with it."
The tie extended the Red Bulls' unbeaten streak to nine. They haven't lost since Aug. 25 at Chivas USA.
Their regular-season success hasn't made them forget last year's playoff exit. After a 1-all road draw in the first leg of the conference semifinals against D.C., the Red Bulls fell 1-0 at home.
"That's a horrible feeling; that's a feeling that we can't have again," midfielder Dax McCarty said. "We're mature enough, we're an experienced enough team to bounce back from conceding a late goal, and I think we'll be all right for Wednesday."
A first win in New York would send the Dynamo through to their third straight conference championship. They've lost to Los Angeles in the MLS Cup the last two years and won championships in 2006 and '07.
"This team has two stars on their jerseys and we've fought through the playoffs the last two years to get to MLS Cup," assistant coach Wade Barrett told the Dynamo's official website.
Barrett helped run the team in the first leg after coach Dominic Kinnear was suspended for running onto the field in the knockout-round game against Montreal.
"So this is a group of guys that understands what it takes, and it takes full, 100 percent commitment on every single play, in every second from the time the whistle blows to the time the game is finished," Barrett said.
All three regular-season meetings went the Red Bulls' way by a combined score of 9-1, and they're 4-0-1 in their last five against the Dynamo.
Houston hasn't scored a goal in its last three visits to the Red Bulls, including a 2-0 defeat June 30.
The Dynamo's last two regular-season losses were to New York in Houston, 4-1 on Sept. 8 and 3-0 on Oct. 20.