KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - The Houston Dynamo defied the odds to secure its third appearance in MLS Cup in six years, edging Sporting Kansas City with a 2-0 win at Livestrong Sporting Park on Sunday.
Needing a win at one of the league's most difficult venues to get a positive result, Houston seemed an unlikely bet to advance after talisman Brad Davis was helped off the field in the 39th minute with a quadricep injury.
But it did not stop the resilient Dynamo, as second-half goals from Andre Hainault and Carlo Costly powered Houston to the MLS title match on Nov. 20 at The Home Depot Center.
The best scoring chance of the first half fell to the visitors, as Calen Carr found himself one-on-one with Jimmy Nielsen in the 17th minute, but the Sporting goalkeeper produced a fine save to keep Houston off the board.
Houston suffered a major blow to its attacking game plan when Davis exited the match just before the break, but the Dynamo came out in the second half with confidence and optimism.
Despite playing without its dead-ball specialist, Houston still managed to score from a set piece as they broke through in the 53rd minute.
Jermaine Taylor headed the initial delivery back in front of net where it was met by Hainault, who redirected the ball past Nielsen for the telling goal.
With Sporting pushing in search of an equalizer, Houston put the match on ice in the 88th minute with a goal from Costly.
Luiz Camargo slipped a through ball past the porous Sporting backline to find Costly, who tracked the pass down before finishing with a brilliant effort off of Nielsen's far post.
Sporting, losing for just the third time at home all season, crashes out of the playoffs despite finishing in first place in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.
Instead, Houston, the newly crowned Eastern Conference champions, will advance to MLS Cup for the third time in the club's six-year history where it will face the winner of the Western Conference final between Real Salt Lake and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Dynamo came out on top in their two previous trips to the final, winning the trophy in 2006 and 2007 with defeats of the New England Revolution on both occasions.