An absolutely epic effort came up just a bit short tonight in Pachuca as the Dynamo fell 5-4 on aggregate in extra time. I've never really cared either way about Houston, didn't like them, but I didn't hate them either. Tonight, I was pulling for them.
They came out intimidated, and giving up an offside goal sure doesn't help matters. The first penalty looked weak live, but was hard to argue on the replay. I give the Orange Crush a ton of credit for not folding up the tents right there.
Brian Mullan, who played his guts out all night, scored early in the second half to put the Dynamo right back in front. A crappy penalty, that was even a very questionable free kick OUTSIDE the box, leveled the score again. The foul, if you're going to call it (which I wouldn't), was committed outside the box.
Brian Ching scored a great goal off substitute Kevin Goldthwaite's excellent free kick late in the second half. None of the crew thought the game was over, and it wasn't as Caballero scored his second off a really nice header in the six yard box. Off to extra time...
Just as we were talking about what Houston would do in the second half of extra time, and just as the referee put the whistle into his mouth, Gimenez finished off his hat trick. It sure looked like the ref was going to call for time, the shot came after 15 minutes, and the Dynamo players and staff were really ticked, but the score stood. Paul Dalglish was brought on at the break, and I nearly broke a beer bottle over someone's head. He sucked in his short time on the pitch. Where was Wondolowski?
Brian Ching had the best chance to bring Houston back, but his shoulder-er went just wide. I think he was too gassed to even get up for the header.
Wade Barrett played one of the better defensive games I've seen, even though his team gave up 5 goals. Props to just about everybody associated with the Dynamo, they showed a great deal of class after the final whistle. I don't know if I could've dealt with a loss like that in the way that they did. They were a great representative of MLS, and American soccer.
I'm very disappointed in the cheap tactics employed by Pachuca. They are far too good of a team to resort to that sort of stuff. Consistent cheap shots, dives, slaps, etc. were just silly. The goalkeeper trying to goad Dominic Kinnear into a fight going into extra time was one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen. I hate to see good teams do that sort of cheap stuff. I pulled for Pachuca in the Sudamericana last year because I loved their style of play. I hated to see them play they way they did tonight.
I hate trying to find the silver lining in losses, but the MLS teams were FAR more competitive this time around. I think, in a true Champions' League format (with home and away matches in group play, followed by a knockout round, extending into the late Spring/early Summer), Houston and DCU might have found ways out of these series. As it is, we're looking for silver linings...