The Houston Dynamo advanced to the MLS quarterfinals with a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City on Thursday.
Alberth Elis scored the game’s lone goal in the 94th minute after a terrific run down the right flank by the wily veteran Vicente Sánchez. Houston will play the 2015 MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers in the Western Conference semifinals, hosting the first leg at BBVA Compass Stadium on Monday night.
Here are three thoughts on the game:
Neutrals will want those 120 minutes back
On a night when Atlanta and Columbus showed you could play 120 minutes of thrilling soccer with a 0-0 score, Houston and KC combined to show that you can also produce two hours of soul-killing soccer as well.
Disjointed play, a shoddy field, mistakes aplenty, few chances, an atmosphere-free stadium: Everyone involved should try to pretend like this game never happened. There are simply too many teams in the MLS playoffs, too much reward for mediocrity and this was our punishment for that.
Is the Peter Vermes mojo on the wane?
In the four seasons since Kansas City won the 2013 MLS Cup final, there have now been four eliminations in the play-in game. That’s just not good enough for a club that sells out its stadium every week and expects more than that. It’s a widely held belief that Vermes is one of two American coaches (along with Tab Ramos) who is a candidate for the USMNT head job, but you have to wonder if KC’s results over the last four years have thrown that candidacy into doubt.
Sánchezis a useful veteran
Yes, the 37-year-old Uruguayan would go on to miss one of the easiest sitters you’ll ever see, but he had one moment of magic to create the goal, and that’s all the Dynamo needed. Having veterans who know their roles is important if you want to win ugly games, and Sánchez showed that yet again on Thursday.
Houston is not the most attractive team, and it often relies on counterattacks under Wilmer Cabrera, but the Dynamo are hard to play against, and they won’t be an easy out for the top-seeded Portland Timbers in the next round.