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DCU, Dynamo clash at BBVA

Oct 10, 2014 - 9:58 PM Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Eastern Conference rivals will clash on Sunday as East-leading D.C. United travels to BBVA Compass Stadium to face the Houston Dynamo in a crucial late-season matchup.

After running in place near the bottom of the Eastern Conference for most of the season, the Dynamo still have the postseason in their sights following an impressive 1-0 win over Toronto FC at BMO Field on Wednesday despite playing a man down for a sizable chunk of the second half.

The win pushed Houston up to 39 points and into seventh place in the table, four behind the Columbus Crew for the fifth and final playoff berth in the East.

The game's only goal came in the 35th minute when Giles Barnes outmuscled Toronto defender Nick Hagglund for an aerial ball on the right side of the field and fired it between the legs of TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.

Things became more intense in the 54th minute when Dynamo defender AJ Cochran was whistled for a foul in the box and shown a straight red card for denial of goal-scoring opportunity, which also resulted in a penalty kick for the home side.

Defoe stepped to the spot looking for an equalizer, but his strike to the bottom left corner was expertly saved by Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric on the dive.

Given the physical nature of the second half, TFC was thrown a bit of a life line when the fourth official's board showed seven minutes of added time, but the equalizing goal never came and Houston held on to claim all three points.

"It's tough, especially when it's a center back," said head coach Dominic Kinnear of Cochran's early exit. "We really had to change things around. You knew right then, especially with the situation we're at in the league standings, that Toronto was going to pile it on heavy, and they did."

United, meanwhile, will just be hoping to stay sharp and avoid a late-season slump, having already clinched a postseason spot.

Ben Olsen's team is unbeaten in its last three league matches and coming off a scoreless draw against defending champions Sporting Kansas City last time out.

The best opportunity for either side in the first half came in the 28th minute when Luis Silva dropped a ball off to Fabian Espindola, whose dangerous first- time shot was turned away by an important block from Sporting defender Matt Besler.

United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had a relatively quiet evening, but he was called upon in the 76th minute when C.J. Sapong turned a header on goal from close range that required Hamid to get down quickly to keep out the effort.

"There was a real edge tonight, and we knew that coming in, and I think [Kansas City] knew that coming in. Six points between us, we had taken six points, last game was 3-0, and we knew they were going to come out with a real fire," Olsen said. "I thought their energy was good. Their passing is always good. We held it in the first half, and the second half I thought we were good. Overall in the game we had better chances than them, but we weren't able to finish any of them."

This will be the third and final meeting between the sides this season. Houston claimed a 1-0 win over United on Aug. 3, while D.C. earned a 2-0 result on May 21.