CARSON -- Houston's return to the MLS Cup final couldn't have come more fittingly, the pivotal goal in its victory over Sporting Kansas City coming from, naturally, from a set piece.
Only thing was Brad Davis wasn't there to deliver it.
The Dynamo's 2-0 triumph over host Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference final, sending them to the Nov. 20 MLS Cup title game at Home Depot Center against the winner of Sunday night's Galaxy-Real Salt Lake showdown, was marred by a thigh injury to Davis.
Davis, a left-sided midfielder who led Major League Soccer in assists this season and is among the primary contenders for the MVP award, limped off after tangling in midfield with K.C.'s Graham Zusi in the 35th minute. He fell to the turf clutching his right thigh and resisted letting his right leg touch the ground as he was escorted to the sideline.
After the game, he celebrated with teammates while on crutches, and as they jumped up and down with the Eastern Conference trophy, Davis again made certain to put no weight on the leg.
He told Fox Soccer Channel after the game that the injury was a “freak thing” and that his status for MLS Cup won't be clear until the injury is evaluated early this week.
“It's too early to tell right now,” he said on the FSC telecast of the match. “I'm not sure, but we'll see in a few days.”
The Dynamo return to MLS's title game for the first time since winning back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007, the first two seasons in Houston after relocating from San Jose. The club had won titles as the Earthquakes in 2001 and 2003 and won the Supporters' Shield in 2005 while posting the best post-shootout era record in league history (64 points), a mark eclipsed this season by the Galaxy (67).
Houston got the goal in the 53rd minute, with Adam Moffat handling a free kick from the right flank in Davis' absence. The ball found Jermaine Taylor at the far post, and Andre Hainault knocked in the rebound when the Jamaican's try bounced off Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Luiz Camargo should have added to the lead a minute later, but Matt Besler made a big defensive play in the box, and Sporting failed to convert with the ball bouncing around Houston's goalmouth two minutes after that.
Carlo Costly added an 87th minute goal, firing in off the left post on a through ball from Camargo.
UPDATE (7:15 p.m.): ESPN reports that Davis will miss MLS Cup.
Livestrong Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kan.)
Sporting Kansas City 0, Houston Dynamo 2
H -- Andre Hainault 53
H -- Carlo Costly (Luiz Camargo) 87
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic (Omar Bravo, 85); Kei Kamara, Roger Espinoza (Davy Arnaud, 75), Julio Cesar (Jeferson, 82); Graham Zusi; C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury.
Houston Dynamo: Tally Hall; Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Corey Ashe; Danny Cruz, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, Brad Davis (Jermaine Taylor, 39); Brian Ching (Carlo Costly, 78), Calen Carr (Will Bruin, 68).
Yellow cards: Carr 17, Julio Cesar 30, Camargo 55, Espinoza 74, Costly 87.
Referee: Mark Geiger. Att.: 20,839.
East: Sporting Kansas City 0, Houston 2 (Hainault 53, Costly 87)
West: Real Salt Lake at Galaxy, late
MLS CUP 2011
Sunday, Nov. 20
Galaxy or Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center (Carson), 6 p.m. (ESPN and Galavision)
Wednesday, Oct. 26
FC Dallas 0, New York 1 (Lindpere 61)
Thursday, Oct. 27
Colorado 1 (Cummings 45), Columbus 0
FIRST ROUND, FIRST LEG
Saturday, Oct. 29
Real Salt Lake 3 (Saborio 41, 53, Grabavoy 88), Seattle 0
Sunday, Oct. 30
New York 0, Galaxy 1 (Magee 15)
Philadelphia 1 (Le Toux 7), Houston 2 (Hainault 6, Carr 30)
Colorado 0, Sporting Kansas City 2 (Bunbury 49, 59)
FIRST ROUND, SECOND LEG
Sporting Kansas City 2 (Collin 28, Sapong 76), Colorado 0
+ Sporting Kansas City advances on aggregate, 4-0
Seattle 2 (Alonso pen. 56, Neagle 61), Real Salt Lake 0
+ Real Salt Lake advances on aggregate, 3-2
Houston 1 (Ching 48+), Philadelphia 0
+ Houston advances on aggregate, 3-1
Galaxy 2 (Magee 42, Donovan pen. 74), New York 1 (Rodgers 4)
+ Galaxy advances on aggregate, 3-1