Harrison, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - The Eastern Conference semifinal series between Red Bull New York and the Houston Dynamo will come to a thrilling conclusion on Wednesday when the two sides meet at Red Bull Arena.
The opening leg of the series at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday ended in a 2-2 draw, a result that seemingly gives Houston much of the momentum.
The Red Bulls held a two-goal advantage thanks to first-half goals from Tim Cahill and Eric Alexander. Ricardo Clark cut the deficit in half, but it was a red card from Jamison Olave that granted the Dynamo a way back into the match as Omar Cummings struck in stoppage time to level the score.
"The red card killed us," said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. "Those goals are our fault. It wasn't something created out of spectacular stuff. It was self-inflicted on us.
"The rule of thumb is on the road, if you get a tie and go home to your place and it's pretty much 0-0, it's a good thing. But our guys are angry at the way that we allowed them back in the game."
Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam echoed Petke's sentiments, saying that New York can lean on its impressive home record this term for confidence heading into Wednesday's crucial clash.
"If you come here and get a draw, it's not the worst result," Sam said after the match in Houston. "We're strong at home. (But) the result isn't going to take care of itself. We're going to have to do what we do at home, as we've been doing."
But the Dynamo also have cause for optimism heading into Wednesday's return match. They dug themselves a hole by conceding two goals, but the manner in which Houston evened the score embodies the club's penchant for peaking come playoff time.
"You can't really win the series in the first leg, but I think you can definitely lose it if you give up a ton of goals," said defender Bobby Boswell. "It was great for the guys to give ourselves a chance heading to New York. We are going to fight to the last whistle. We have to go out and try to hit them where it hurts, at home."