HOUSTON - After advancing to the MLS Cup Final with a 3-1 win against the Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo players were understandably elated.
"It's incredible," Dynamo forward Brian Ching said. "To come from behind like that in front of such a great crowd is unbelievable. It's a testament to this team."
Houston forward Paul Dalglish was the standout performer for Dynamo in the match, scoring two goals in the first 21 minutes of play.
"Anytime you score two goals you have a good game as a forward," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said of Dalglish. "I thought overall he had a great game."
Dalglish was happy with his performance, and excited to contribute to his team's win.
"I was delighted," Dalglish said. "I think [the goals] were one-touch finishes, and that's the type of goals I like to score. I'm just glad I can score a couple of goals."
Dalglish was also proud of his team's effort and attitude after going down 1-0 in the third minute of play.
"I don't think our heads went down after the first goal," Dalglish said. "It obviously was a penalty, and the guys took it well. The character that the guys showed to come back from 1-0 down was brilliant, but that's the team spirit we've got here."
Just like last week's win against Chivas USA, Houston credited its fans with helping the team to victory.
"I felt times at the end [of the game] where I was exhausted," Ching said, "but hearing [the fans] cheer you on gives you a little bit extra motivation to put a little bit more effort out there."
Kinnear went a step further, saying, "When you walk down the tunnel and see everyone wearing orange, it's like no other place in Major League Soccer right now."
Ching says that Houston is focused on a win at next week's MLS Cup match in Frisco.
"Unfortunately last year we didn't get as far as we wanted to," Ching said. "This year we set our goal [to win the MLS Cup], we said we're going to do it. We're one step away."
In the Colorado locker room, the mood was subdued as the team reflected on its second consecutive loss in the Western Conference Championship.
Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo attributed his team's loss to an inability to settle into a rhythm, saying his team "just couldn't find a rhythm, and we paid for it."
Goalkeeper Joe Cannon placed some of the blame on his team's defense.
"I think we were just giving them [chances]," Cannon said. "I think we were playing a little too high. We've kind of had a problem with this all year for some reason. I felt like we just gave them a lot of space in behind."
Cannon also said Houston's first goal could have been called back for offside.
When asked about how his defense performed, Clavijo said his defense played well, but was unable to match up with Houston's bigger, more physical players.
"They have some good players and they have the players to play the ball in from wide," Clavijo said. "Dalglish gets inside, Mullan gets inside and they get good balls. They put in good crosses, and they make us pay for it."
About his offense, Clavijo said that his team "had some chances, but we just couldn't connect. I think defensively they played well, and you have to give the credit to them."
Cannon was stoic about the loss, saying: "We lost to the better team tonight, and we've just got to give them credit."
However, Cannon still feels that his team had a shot to compete in the league championship game if it had played up to its potential.
"It's disappointing," said Cannon, "because for two years in a row we've come to the Western Conference final and haven't really played that well."
Lucas Ogden-Davis is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.