The Houston Dynamo closed the regular season with a big win but didn’t get rewarded for it.
Houston scored two goals in a three-minute span midway through the first half Sunday, then held off Chivas USA 3-2 to finish second in the Western Conference.
Article continues below ...
The Dynamo (13-8-9) have 48 points along with Los Angeles, which held the tiebreaker over Houston for the top spot in the conference. The Dynamo will play the expansion Seattle Sounders FC in the first round, with the first leg likely to be played Thursday in Seattle.
Andrew Hainault, Dominic Oduro and Abe Thompson scored for Houston, which improved to 6-1-5 against Chivas in the regular season.
The Dynamo’s playoff scenario, however, did not please coach Dominic Kinnear, who said his team would have to deal with fatigue and travel concerns ahead of the playoff opener.
“I’m not worried about their fitness, I’m worried about how many games they’ve played,” Kinnear said. “Now we’re playing on Thursday and the league didn’t take into account that we played in CONCACAF on Wednesday. It’s unfair.”
Houston, which played a CONCACAF Champions League match in El Salvador on Wednesday, will stay in Southern California until Tuesday before heading north to Seattle.
Chivas USA (13-11-6) dropped to fourth in the West with 45 points and will play archrival Los Angeles at The Home Depot Center in the postseason for the first time. Chivas will be the home team for the first match Nov. 1, with the Galaxy hosting the return leg Nov. 8.
For Chivas, though, its playoff position is far from ideal.
“We definitely didn’t achieve our goals. The Western Conference championship would have been the first goal we’d set out for,” defender Jonathan Bornstein said. “Even with five games left to go, if we… would have beaten New York and San Jose, we would have done it but we tied both games and we had so many chances and we don’t put away goals.”
Failing to capitalize on its chances hurt Chivas again Sunday. The club had three shots in the first 22 minutes but two of the attempts – by Justin Braun and Maicon Santos – went right to Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
Instead, it was Hainault who opened the scoring for Houston in the 26th minute after Ryan Cochrane headed a corner kick to the front of the net.
Three minutes later, Brad Davis slipped a ball in the middle of the field as Oduro raced into the penalty area unmarked. He beat Zach Thornton from 15 yards to make it 2-0.
“We got the goal and it kind of gave us some confidence and a boost of energy,” Kinnear said. “We get a second goal and the confidence grows from there.”
Thompson padded the lead in the 52nd minute before Chivas answered in the 59th, when rookie Michael Lahoud scored his first MLS goal.
Chivas got within a goal on Eduardo Lillingston’s penalty kick in the 88th minute but could not find an equalizer down the stretch.
Chivas USA coach Preki Radosavljevic said his team was unfortunate not to walk away with something from Sunday’s match.
“The way we played, the way we fought, our energy, hopefully they will get rewarded because there was only one team on the field who played soccer, there was only one team on the field who had chances and that team lost,” he said. “Quite a few times the game can be cruel. We are not putting our head down.”