Griffin Dorsey lifts Real Salt Lake past Houston into semifinals

League: MLS

Posted on: 12 Nov, 2023 at 01:44 AM

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Griffin Dorsey converted the final kick of the tiebreak to lift the Houston Dynamo into the Western Conference semifinals with a 4-3 win on penalties following a 1-1 draw with visiting Real Salt Lake in their Round One series decider on Saturday night.

Dorsey's winning kick -- which only barely evaded the diving Zac MacMath -- came after substitute Danny Musovski struck the post with Salt Lake's fifth penalty.

Houston goalkeeper Steve Clark saved Diego Luna's attempt, but MacMath answered by denying Nelson Quinones to set up the dramatic finish.

Corey Baird scored his first goal of the postseason to give the Dynamo the first-half lead in this deciding game of a best-of-three series.

Luna answered with a 65th-minute header, as RSL came from behind to tie for a third consecutive game.

But Salt Lake never led in this series, with Houston winning the opener 2-1 before tying the latter matches at 1-1.

And this time the fourth-seeded Dynamo won the penalty tiebreak, earning them the right to host eighth-seeded Sporting Kansas City in a single-elimination semifinal to be played on Nov. 25 or 26.

Baird put Houston in front in the 28th minute. After RSL failed to completely clear a free kick from the right, Nelson Quinones reached it on the left flank and sent in a second cross toward the back post.

The ball skimmed off a Salt Lake defender before reaching Hector Herrera, who headed it back across goal for Baird to poke home from just inside the 6-yard box.

Baird nearly had a second in the 63rd minute when he reached Griffin Dorsey's cross after a counter down the right, but defender Justen Glad intervened just in time to take the shot wide of the near post.

Luna leveled three minutes later on one of RSL's best sequences of the match that eventually saw the ball come to fullback Bryan Oviedo on the left.

Oviedo played a smart cross back toward the penalty spot in the path of the late run of Luna, who sent his header bouncing off the turf, beyond Clark's dive and inside the right post.

MacMath nearly gifted Houston a second goal 15 minutes from full time when he played a bad pass leading to an immediate Dynamo break.

He made up for it with a desperate lunge that deflected Hector Herrera's pass that, if received, would have set up a shot into an empty net.

--Field Level Media