Relive Sports Mole's coverage of an MLS playoff elimination game featuring three goals and as many red cards between Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact.
By Liam Power, Reporter Filed: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 00:00 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 10:26 UK
Houston Dynamo hosted the Montreal Impact in a winner-take-all clash at BBVA Compass Stadium tonight, with both sides looking to advance in a sudden-death MLS Cup playoff elimination game.
Montreal went into the match on a run of three defeats in their last four games and fell behind in Texas after 18 minutes, thanks to an early strike from Will Bruin.
Boniek Garcia doubled Houston's advantage soon after from the penalty spot, with an Impact side reduced to eight men unable to respond as Bruin's second put a Dynamo victory beyond doubt.
Look back at how Houston booked an Eastern Conference semi-final clash with the New York Red Bulls by checking out Sports Mole's minute-by-minute text commentary below.
12.03amEvening Major League Soccer fans. It's playoff time across the pond and Sports Mole has you covered as nine teams chase the MLS Cup title. Tonight we will focus on the Eastern Conference elimination clash between the Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact, with the losing team facing an abrupt end to their campaign.
12.06amHouston are probably carrying the greater momentum into tonight's match, after securing their place in the playoffs with victory over DC United last week. The Dynamo have become a dangerous side to face in the post-season and this year should be no different, as they look to match their MLS Cup final efforts from the previous two campaigns.
12.09amMontreal meanwhile just about clung on to their playoff place despite a poor end to the campaign, thanks largely to the consistent efforts of Marco Di Vaio in attack. The former Italy international found the net 20 times during the regular season, leaving the Impact heavily reliant on their experienced talisman.
12.12amThe Impact will also be without their defensive linchpin this evening, with Alessandro Nesta's final season as a professional almost certainly over through injury. Montreal have lost their last three road games without scoring, a record that must change if they are to upset the odds tonight in Houston.
12.15amTEAM NEWS! We have news of the starting XIs and Montreal have made a whole host of changes tonight, in search of the spark that saw them set the pace in the Eastern Conference two months ago. A full look a both lineups will follow shortly.
12.22amIn total the Impact have made four changes in total this evening, in what should be a reshaped 4-2-3-1 formation with De Vaio in attack. Jeb Brovsky and Nelson Rivas are recalled in defence, along with Collen Warner and Andrea Pisanu. Andrew Wenger will play just off Di Vaio, who leads the line and looks by far the most likely goal threat for the visitors.
12.25amHouston meanwhile are unchanged from the side which beat DC United last week, partnering Giles Barnes and Will Bruin in attack. Brad Davis takes on much of the creative licence from out wide, while Ricardo Clark provides physical presence in central midfield.
12.28amAlthough Dynamo's proud home record makes them the favourites tonight, it's worth noting that Montreal can take heart from two successive victories over Houston this year. Montreal did the double over the side just one place and two points above them in the regular season standings, which all suggests that this match could be a very close affair.
12.31amWe are running a little behind schedule in Houston, which means there is plenty of time for me to report that the winner of tonight's clash will go through to an Eastern Conference semi-final against the New York Red Bulls, who won the supporters shield with the best record in MLS.
12.33amAlso worth noting that we will have a winner tonight whether it takes all evening, which means extra time and penalties if required.
0 minHere we go then at a Compass Stadium which has been hit by heavy rain in the last 48 hours, as Montreal get us underway shooting from right to left. A loser leaves town match in the Eastern Conference has begun as an early diagonal in search of Di Vaio misses the intended target.
3 minMontreal have settled in possession early on, until Rivas mistimes a long pass that falls straight out of play. A swift Impact break then sees Warner break before flicking forward to Di Vaio, who is flagged offside just as he bears down on goal. A lucky escape there for Houston.
6 minDi Vaio is caught offside for the second time in quick succession after showing clever movement to drift beyond Wenger, but just failed to time his run inside the penalty area. Houston pick up play to counter down the left through Davis, who is also caught offside as Ricardo Clark's dummy catches him by surprise.
9 minCorey Ashe is down for Houston after taking a stray elbow to the head in an aerial clash with Camara, eventually walking to the touchline. The full-back should be fine to continue, but still looks a little groggy at the moment.
12 minGarcia takes Houston's first corner of the night but fails to get his delivery beyond a defender at the near post. Montreal break as Ashe does just enough to deny Di Vaio and shield towards his goalkeeper, before reacting to a late push from the Italian striker.
15 minHouston win another corner as captain Davis goes across to take, with his much-improved effort still punched away by Perkins. Sarkodie picks up the pieces and finds Clark, but his header is straight at Perkins and comfortably held.
18 minBarnes rather cynically hauls over Camara but fails to stop another direct approach from Montreal, which catches Di Vaio offside for the third time after Rivas robbed Bruin. Montreal will be confident of getting that pass right at some point tonight, as Houston continue to play a high line.
21 minAdvantage Houston as Bruin breaks the deadlock with his fifth career playoff goal. The chance was created by quick thinking from Clark, who drove forward before flicking to Bruin just inside the penalty area. Bruin controlled neatly and showed composure to finish, curling into the top corner from 12 yards.
23 minMontreal nearly respond almost instantly as Mapp picks up the ball outside the box, curling inches beyond the box. At the other end Houston find space to strike at goal through Clark with an instant counter, smashing wide from a tight angle. End-to-end stuff following Bruin's opener.
25 minBernadello's terrific switch deserves better from Pisanu, who just fails to control inside the penalty area. Houston waste no time in clearing to break through Garcia, leading to an exchange between Bruin and Barnes which wins the hosts a corner kick.
26 minPENALTY TO HOUSTON! Garcia has just tricked inside the box to draw a foul from Bernadello, who panics and brings down the Honduran. The referee points straight to the spot, penalty to Dynamo!
30 minGarcia makes no mistake from the spot, sending Perkins the wrong way with a composed penalty. Houston are now in complete control, taking full advantage of small Montreal errors which have completely undermined a fairly even opening to the match.
33 minMapp nearly finds Di Vaio free at the far post as Montreal continue to carry a threat on the counter, albeit with the Italian isolated as he heads back towards a grateful Tally Hall. The Impact face an uphill task to respond now, as Davis dribbles down the left for Houston.
36 minYELLOW CARD! The pitch is noticeably cutting up out wide as Pisanu takes a huge chunk out of the turf sliding in to retrieve possession. Soon after Rivas puts his arm into the face of Barnes and is very fortunate to escape with just a caution, much to the disgust of the former Derby County youngster.
39 minBarnes returns with a cut lip for his troubles, as Montreal launch another long ball towards Di Vaio. The 37-year-old is simply too isolated against Boswell in the final third, surely as the game goes on Montreal must push more men forward in search of a response.
41 minPerkins rushes off his line to stop Garcia meeting a clever flick header forward from Bruin. Houston's creative players are switching positions all the time to find space in the final third, a problem Montreal have so far failed woefully to manage.
43 minMore Houston pressure as Sarkodie drives forward to meet Bruin's slick backheel, sending a deflected drive behind for a corner kick. Sarkodie goes across to take the corner short, but Perkins is on hand to confidently claim the eventual cross into the box.
45 minMontreal have by far their best chance of the night as Di Vaio gets good service in the final third, after Garcia was caught in possession from deep. Di Vaio is closed down quickly by Hall and elects to chip from a tight angle, with his effort parried clear by the keeper's quick reactions.
1.29amHouston have justified their pre-match favourites tag with a confident first-half display, scoring twice without reply to take complete control of the knockout tie.
1.32amMontreal actually started the match with a spring in their step but look far too one-dimensional in attack, with top scorer Di Vaio largely left to chase down lost causes in attack. Houston took their time and have settled on a fluid approach in attack, which has proved too hot to handle for the Impact.
1.35amThe Dynamo have strong midfield runners who look to get forward at every opportunity and that helped create the opening goal, as Clark and Bruin combined to deadly effect in the final third. Montreal failed to regain composure following that setback and soon fell further behind after Bernadello fouled Garcia to concede a penalty, which the Honduran converted ruthlessly.
1.38amThere were concerns about the surface before kickoff, but despite cutting up in some areas the pitch has largely held up to the demands of an important match. Montreal are staring down the barrel of elimination at the interval, which surely means that Di Vaio will get help in attack as the visitors go for broke when play resumes.
1.41amBoth teams are back out at Compass Field, as Houston look to close out home victory which would see them advance to meet the New York Red Bulls in an Eastern Conference semi-final. Still a job to do here though, as Montreal have one last chance to keep their season alive.
47 minHouston get the second half underway, as Davis immediately has a cross cleared by Rivas. Montreal then break but are held up by a cynical foul from Garcia, who stopped any chance of an Impact counter abruptly.
50 minClark switches to Garcia, who in turn finds Garcia as the Dynamo build a patient attack. Eventually Clark loses possession in search of Barnes, but Pisanu's speculative clearance over the top towards Di Vaio ends up drifting aimlessly out of play.
53 minBarnes draws a needless foul from Brovsky, winning a free kick just wide of the penalty area. From the cross Davis sees his delivery cleared at the near post by Di Vaio, although Clark is on hand to pick up the pieces and win a corner kick.
56 minMapp beats two defenders before letting fly from 25 yards, only to see his effort blocked behind by a late deflection from Creavalle. When play resumes the Impact make a change, swapping Pisuanu for Argentinos Juniors loanee Andres Romero.
59 minMontreal are pressed back deep in their own half as Bruin glides between two challenges, hitting a strike off balance but still managing to force Perkins into a save at his near post. From the following corner Barnes connects with a header, but as Rivas gets the final touch the defender gets pushed to the ground. Some retribution there for Barnes, as the Dynanmo quickly win another corner kick.
62 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Paponi and Felipe replace Warner and Wenger as Montreal go for broke, just after Di Vaio forced Hall to palm clear a powerful effort from range. It's now or never for the Impact, who need two goals to stay alive in the playoffs.
65 minBruin is denied by Perkins after sending a firm header towards the near post, just after Garcia's pass towards Barnes had been brilliantly intercepted by Rivas. Expect this match to open up now as Montreal are forced to chase a goal to reduce the deficit.
68 minPaponi overlaps Mapp down the right and uses the space to fire at goal, forcing Hall to tip behind for a Montreal corner kick. Felipe comes across to take but the referee soon calls a found against Camara as the ball swings into the penalty area, ending a bright spell for the visitors.
70 minRED CARD! Rivas has just picked up a second yellow card after leading with his arm for the second time tonight, elbowing Bruin full in the face. That challenge was enough to earn his second bookable offence, leaving Montreal to play for the last 20 minutes a man light.
74 minIt's a brace for Bruin as Houston immediately profit from that rash Rivas challenge, effectively ending this match as a contest. Bruin beat Ferrari for pace before cutting across Perkins, finishing into an empty net for his 10th goal of the season.
77 minHouston could add more to this lead if they are in a particularly unforgiving mood, as Davis tests Perkins with a drive from distance. Montreal are playing for damaged limitation late on, as Di Vaio chases down Brunner out wide.
80 minSUBSTITUTIONS: The hosts make a double change in attack as Bruin and Barnes are replaced by Weaver and Cummings. Job done for the departing pair, who can look forward to testing their mettle against the Red Bulls next week almost certainly.
83 minAnother late Houston change as Andrew Driver comes on for the captain Brad Davis, who comes off to a warm reception from the Dynamo faithful. The winger led by example tonight, helping the hosts make a confident start to their playoff campaign.
86 minDriver quickly gets involved as he beats a man out wide before crossing towards the far post, with Creavalle dragging his strike well past the target on the follow-up. Montreal look a beaten side as Feplie just denies Cummings with a last-ditch covering challenge.
89 minRED CARDS! Montreal have lost both Di Vaio and Romero as frustration boils over late on. Romero initially lashed out after kicking the ball from under Ashe's body near the corner flag. In the clash that followed featuring players from both sides Di Vaio was prominent, grabbing Ashe by the throat to leave Montreal with eight men for the final few moments.
2.31amAfter a pretty classless ending from Montreal it's Houston who advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, thanks to a efficient display full of drive and quality in the final third. Tougher tests await the Dynamo though, with Supporters Shield winners the New York Red Bulls waiting in the next round.
2.34pmThat will be just about do it for Sports Mole's live coverage from Houston, but be sure to stick with us for complete coverage of the MLS Cup playoffs throughout November. Goodnight!