Well, I think that game was an indictment of the MLS playoffs schedule. Both teams looked tired and weary. KC will probably be the slightly happier with the 0-0, but this is a long way from over. All back to Kansas City for the second leg in two weeks.
Thanks for reading, emailing, tweeting. Sorry I couldn't use them all.
See you tomorrow for Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers.
Final: Houston Dynamo 0-0 Sporting Kansas City
90+6 mins: Opara finds space on the right for SKC. He passes to Zusi, who then takes the ball towards the corner for time rather than go for a shot. Disappointing.
90+5 mins: orange streamers all over SKC's goal. Nielsen takes some time to tidy it up.
90+4 mins: Chance! The ball reaches Driver inside the KC area but his volley spins harmlessly wide.
90+2 mins: It's incredibly scrappy now. Zusi finds a fraction of space but loses the ball. Tally Hall comes to claim. 0-0.
90 mins: Seven minutes to be added on...
89 mins: More high balls for Weaver by Houston. He's throwing his body around but to little eventual effect. He crunches Collin. Still 0-0.
88 mins: Chabala tackles Nagamura on Houston's left. Chabala has been a far-more-than-adequate replacement for the suspended Ashe. Who will play at left-back for the Dynamo in the second leg?
87 mins: Now Weaver is down. And up again. Two very tired looking teams.
85 mins: Dwyer breaks through the middle and feeds Nagamura out wide on the right but his cross is straight to Houston's Hall.
84 mins: Chabala takes another long throw in...and it's so long it goes over everybody's heads. Goal kick. Still 0-0.
83 mins: Opara on for Peterson for SKC.
82 mins: Hall looks to have claimed the ball but drops it. To his relief it is cleared. (Tally Hall was mightily relieved when a similarish mistake against NYRB didn't prove decisive).
81 mins: Some loose defending by Houston gives SKC a long-throw opportunity. Besler will take. Collin has gone up into the box for this one...
80 mins: Time running out but both of these teams are late-goal specialists (25 between them in the final 15 minutes of regular season games).
79 mins: A long Houston ball eludes Driver. Another ball does find Driver but his cross from the left is too far.
78 mins: Last substitution for Houston. Barnes on for Garcia
76 mins: Houston looking very tired now. Meanwhile SKC bring Dwyer on for Bunbury.
74 mins: Sapong coming on for Feilhaber for SKC, just in time for the corner. Hall punches clear. But Zusi crosses again before that also is cleared.
73 mins: Zusi finds space on the right and feeds Nagamura, bursting through into the box. He wins a corner.
72 mins: Davis finds Weaver on the edge of the KC area. Collin knocks Weaver over but there no whistle. Replay shows Collin stepped on Weaver's foot inside the area. That was a lucky escape for SKC.
70 mins: Nielsen punches clear and SKC break with Zusi but he can't find a way through. The game is getting stretched just a little now with all those tired legs. Still 0-0.
69 mins: Sarkodie breaks down the right. An excellent tackle stops him but Houston have another corner for Brad Davis to take...
67 mins: Weaver's strength in the air appears to be Houston's main strategy now. A long ball towards him is headed clear. And now Aurelian Collin is down on the ground. We might get quite a bit of time added on. Collin is back up.
66 mins: Nielsen is back up. It was quite a collision with Weaver. A fair one though.
65 mins: Garcia finds space down the right. Again it's Collin who gets his head on it and it's briefly away but Houston get the ball back into the box and Nielsen comes to punch it clear. And now he's on the ground rolling around in agony. Sometimes it's hard to tell just how hurt a player is in these circumstances. 0-0.
63 mins: the long-throw is met by Collin's head but it goes just over the bar. Still 0-0.
62 mins: Zusi's free-kick is blasted straight into the wall and away for a throw in.
62 mins: Garcia is back up and the game is back on. Nice interchange by SKC and a thrusting run by Nagamura ends with him being upended by Sarkodie inside the D of the penalty area. Free kick 19 yards out directly in front of goal...
60 mins: SKC have started the second half much more brightly. Zusi gets a cross in from the right but it's headed clear. And now Boniek Garcia is down on the ground for Houston. Dynamo are running out of options and will be hoping this isn't the end of Garcia's afternoon.
59 mins: Shot! Feilhaber gets into the middle and tries his luck, but it's another low drive that goes wide.
58 mins: Save! Houston work the ball down the left.Weaver gets a powerful header to it, but Nielsen saves comfortably. 0-0.
56 mins: SHOT! SKC work the ball well towards the Houston area. Eventually Bunbury finds a yard of space and turns but his shot is straight at Tally Hall. 0-0.
55 mins: Davis finds Driver on the right, who passes to Cummings who falls in the SKC area, but too easily and under a nothing-much challenge. Goal kick. 0-0
53 mins: Chance! Davis' ball floats to the back post and the ball is headed back, bobbles, orange legs swing at it, but there are too many KC bodies in the way and the ball is finally cleared. Still 0-0.
52 mins: Collin brings down Cummings on the left. This time there's a whistle. Free-kick to Houston.
50 mins: Collin bundles over Weaver to a chorus of boos in Houston but no whistle. Still 0-0.
49 mins: A nice ball down the right by SKC finds Zusi. He cuts back inside the Houston box but his eventual shot is blocked.
48 mins: Shot! Sort of. Nagamura found some space 25 yards out but his left-foot shot is low, not very hard and wide.
46 mins: Bruin is off to give Houston "fresh legs" apparently. Bruin had played every minute of Dynamo's 2013 playoff campaign. This is their fourth game in ten days.
And the second half is underway...
More on Houston's option
Indeed, Weaver has come on for Bruin for the second half...
A slightly tortured connection via email from liveblog regular Simon McMahon:
Evening Steve. I'm rooting for Houston, as I prefer to think that they play in tangerine like the world-famous Dundee United FC. Whose 2010 Scottish cup-winning manager was called Houston (Peter). The future's bright, the future's tangerine. Go Houston!
A reminder that we will have live minute-by-minute coverage of Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers at 9pmET on Sunday. Here's our preview of the conference finals.
Our man at BBVA Compass
Sadly that was pretty much as you would expect a first-half of a first leg playoff to be. Not many opportunities. No goals yet. Houston having more possession but few clear opportunities. The loss of Clark is a blow to Dynamo.
Half-time: Houston Dynamo 0-0 Sporting KC
45+2 mins: Davis' corner is headed clear. And that will be it for the first half...
45+1 mins: Chabala with another long throw - the ball bobbles for a moment and Boswell finally gets a shot, but it's deflected over for a corner....
45+1 mins: Another long free-kick from Zusi into the Houston area but the referee whistles for an infringement by Collin.
44 mins: Bunbury is sent clear on Sporting's left but nobody is up in support and he loses the ball. SKC gather the ball again and Rosell shoots, but straight at Hall. 0-0. Two minutes of injury time to come.
43 mins: Davis tucks a neat ball into the SKC area, but Driver is called offside.
41 mins: Shot (sort of)! A speculative effort from Feilhaber goes harmlessly wide.
40 mins: A word from our man in Houston:
40 mins: Shot! Bruin breaks for Houston and gives the ball a huge belt from 35-yards out. It is just over the bar. Great strike. Nielsen looks relieved.
39 mins: Shot! SKC get a shot in but it's blocked well by Sarkodie
38 mins: Peterson finds space down the right but his cross is cleared. Here comes another long-throw opportunity for Besler...
37 mins: SKC finally have some control over the ball and are regularly seeking out Zusi, but he hasn't found much space in Ashe's absence on the right yet. A short period of possession in the Houston half ends in nothing. Dynamo have had 61% of the possession thus far. 0-0.
34 mins: Davis is taking on nearly all of the responsibility in the middle of the park for Houston. He'll need to in Clark's absence. SKC break but break offside. 0-0.
32 mins: Besler heads clear another Chabala throw-in. Still 0-0.
31 mins: Davis feeds Driver on the left and his cross is right into the danger area, but it's Besler who gets their first with a diving header. It's a Houston throw and one benefit of Chabala starting for Dynamo is that he has a very long throw...
29 mins: Now it's Zusi rolling around in agony. Or something. Davis fouled. This could get very testy. And, if the ref decides to start bringing the card out, we could see a lot of reserves featuring in the second leg.
28 mins: SAVE! Jimmy Nielsen dives to his right and pushes away the curling free-kick. 0-0.
27 mins: The upshot of Clark's injury is that it seems to have pushed Houston into a 4-3-3 formation. Now Davis is down on the ground after a hard challenge by Besler. Their a physical bunch SKC. Dynamo have a free-kick 25 yards out...
26 mins: Chance! Houston launch the ball into the SKC area and Cummings gets a shot in but it's deflected away for a corner. Davis' corner is cleared by a blue head. Still 0-0.
25 mins: Clark is down on the ground again. He's off. Driver will come on as substitute but that's a big blow for Houston. 0-0.
23 mins: Clark is limping off the field. But looks like he will return. The injury was a fair 50-50 challenge with Feilhaber. Clark is back on, but still walking very gingerly. Nothing comes off the corner.
21 mins: neat interplay in the Houston midfield by Davis and co moves the ball towards the SKC penalty area. A corner is won. But Ricardo Clark is down in the middle of the field. That's a worry for Houston.
19 mins: Zusi takes a free-kick near the halfway line - but it floats over the assembled masses in the box and into the hands of Tally Hall (whose second half-heroics helped Dynamo to that conference semi-final win over the Supporters' Shield champs).
17 mins: Most of the crowd didn't see the flag go up on that play, but Nielsen did. He was waving his right arm as the ball went into the back of the net. 0-0.
16 mins: Sarkodie has the ball in the SKC net but he's ruled offside. Was he? That was mighty close.
15 mins: A bit of argy-bargy between Collin and Boswell in the Houston area. There's some feisty characters in these teams. And plenty of history.
14 mins: Chance! Zusi cuts in from the right, passes, Nagamura smartly dummies and the ball comes to Peterson who snatches at his shot 8-yards out and it dribbles wide. Peterson was open right in front of the goal and really should have done better there. 0-0.
12 mins: Back to head tennis in the midfield.
10 mins: A long Besler throw is cleared by a Clark header. And then SKC win another throw-in on the other side and across trots Besler for the Stoke-special again and he finds a blue head but it is over the bar.
9 mins: Boswell gets up for the header but it floats beyond the far post. Houston 0-0 SKC
8 mins: Houston pressurize around the SKC area but can't get in a shot. They do, however, win a corner, to be taken by Davis...
5 mins: Chabala takes a throw-in for Houston. He's playing instead of the suspended Ashe. It's Chabala's second start of the season and he's facing Zusi. So not much to worry about there for Houston...
3 mins: Shot! Cummings on the right of the SKC box shoots low, but Nielsen gets down and comfortably saves.
3 mins: Three of SKC's back four have one yellow card already in these playoffs, so any cautions today could have a huge impact on the second leg. Not much pattern to the game yet. Houston goal-kick.
2 mins: A long ball for Will Bruin in the SKC box but he's judged to have fouled Collin.
1 min: The ball bounces around randomly for third seconds and then Houston put their foot on the ball and calm it down, until a long ball is launched forward and we go back to pinball...
Referee Kevin Stott blows his whistle and Houston kick off...
Star Spangled Banner
National Anthem time in Houston:
It's all very orange in Houston. The team are in orange, as are the fans. And any empty seats are orange too. But there's one tiny corner that isn't:
Here come the teams...
Houston in their familiar orange and SKC in light blue (plus Jimmy Nielsen in his very pink jersey).
Kick off coming up soon...
And here are the substitutes:
Here's confirmation of that Houston change...
So, Omar Cummings' late heroics in both legs against NYRB have been rewarded with a starting place. Barnes on the bench (although he may not be fully fit).
Houston vs KC, this is a match-up with plenty of recent history. These teams met in the conference semi-final last year, with Houston holding out 2-1 on aggregate on their way to a second successive MLS Cup final appearance. Two years ago Houston knocked out KC in the conference final.
Can Houston make it to three straight MLS Cup finals? And with no LA Galaxy awaiting this time. Or will Sporting KC finally make it to the big one and emulate the 2000 success of the predecessor Wizards?
On Wednesday night these two teams were battling through extra-time to claim their places in the Eastern Conference final. After just two days rest they face off at Houston's BBVA Stadium. Still, they'll be able to get plenty of recovery time after today – the second leg isn't for another two weeks. And the MLS Cup final a further two weeks after that.
Further weirdness of the MLS playoffs format is that KC's reward for finishing with a better regular season record is a second away game in a week. Houston, of course, are playing their fourth playoff game in ten days, having been required to play a wild-card game due to their fourth-place in the Eastern Conference. On the plus side for the Dynamo, three of those games have been in Houston.
Anyway, here we are with the first of the MLS Conference finals this weekend. Graham Parker will be hosting our live minute-by-minute coverage of Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers at 9mET on Sunday.
I will be back with team news in a minute. Meanwhile, if you want to be part of this liveblog please share your thoughts/predictions/jokes/whatever via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter to @Busfield.