U.S. Open Cup Semifinal Review: Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC 8/8
Dynamo Starting 11(4-3-3): Willis, Machado, Senderos(C), Wenger, Lundqvist, B. Garcia, Martinez, Ceren, Manotas, Quioto, Elis
Dynamo Subs Used: Memo Rodriguez for Quioto(71st), Luis Gil for Manotas(84th), Kevin Garcia for Lundqvist(88th)
LAFC Starting 11(4-2-3-1): Miller, Ciman(C), Zimmerman, Beitshour, Harvey, Feilhaber, Nguyen, Blessing, Vela, Rossi, Atuesta
LAFC Subs Used: Horta for Feilhaber(53rd), Jakovic for Zimmerman(58th), Kovar for Nguyen(71st)
Last night’s match between LAFC and the Houston Dynamo was an absolute slugfest with each team putting on an offensive showing. Extra time and the dreaded penalty shootout added to the already high stakes that a semifinal match in U.S. Open Cup present and it was definitely a rowdy affair. So let’s take a look back and review the match.
Not so surprisingly, the game started out with both sides pushing to attack. Houston put together a brilliant counter from Houston in the fourth minute, but after a couple of runs on goal, the Dynamo had over committed. LAFC broke off a quick counter and Rossi managed to get behind the Dynamo defense on a through ball beating Willis easily. Rossi opened the scoring on his second goal in as many games.
LAFC 1 HOU 0
The early goal from LAFC was a worrying sign for the Dynamo. Houston was playing a really high line with every defender looking to contribute on the attack. So oftentimes, the backline would only have two to three men with Lundqvist and Wenger overlapping with Quioto and Elis on their respective wings dropping in to attack. Senderos and Machado tended to stay back, but they would also stray into the attack from time to time. In the 11th minute, Houston earned their first corner which Lundqvist hit perfectly to the back post where Wenger was wide open. Wenger tapped in the equalizing goal in the 12th minute.
LAFC 1 HOU 1
Possession swapped sides a lot with both teams trying their best to catch the other on the counter. In the end, it was Houston who managed to break the deadlock just 13 minutes after their last goal. In the 25th minute, Elis knocked a great through ball gently in the box for Manotas to hit off the keeper into the goal.
LAFC 1 HOU 2
Immediately after scoring, the Dynamo backline stopped trying to maintain the high line from before and sat a little deeper. Joe Willis saved a goal in the 36th minute that finally ended a prolonged run of possession for LAFC. For the rest of the half, LA spent a lot of time near the Dynamo goal but was never really able to get the final touches on the ball. A lot of that had to do with sloppy passing in the final third leading to interceptions. But they also lost most aerial duels. Finally, in the waning moments of the second half, Tomas Martinez was given a yellow card.
Diego Rossi played an absolutely phenomenal game last night. Shortly after the start of the second half, Rossi managed to slip into the box and get a cross off to Vela. Admittedly Vela couldn’t quite settle the ball before it was cleared, but there would be more to come for Rossi. Vela was trying his hardest to get on the ball and find space. Throughout the game, he was given significant positional flexibility to try find some space. Elis was shown a yellow in the 50th minute, but (thank goodness) he kept his composure. LAFC had a lot of trouble staying on the ball long enough in the attacking third to get a shot on goal. LAFC was given their first yellow card in the 58th minute, going to Atuesta.
Houston’s first sub, Memo Rodriguez, came on in the 71st minute and quickly made an impact. Just four minutes after coming on Memo snuck into the box off the wing and nailed the ball past the goalkeeper near post.
LAFC 1 HOU 3
Not too long after that goal, Rossi earned himself a brace, assisted by Blessing. In the 79th minute, a failed corner drop and Rossi was able to settle the ball and place it back of the net far post to start the comeback
LAFC 2 HOU 3
Play more or less came to a stalemate at this point with neither side making significant challenges on goal, but the mood changed in the 90th minute. The mood change was largely a result of there being six minutes of added time leaving LAFC lots of time for a comeback. And they would need it. In the 95th minute, LAFC was awarded a free kick just outside of the Dynamo box. The shot into the box bounced once before Diego Rossi managed to knock a floating header over the Dynamo defenders and into the back of the net completing his hat trick for the night.
LAFC 3 HOU 3
So into extra time we went. LAFC came out dominating possession, taking a few shots but again struggling to find a finishing touch outside of Rossi. The Dynamo, when in possession, weren’t getting chances in or around the box. And a large part of that probably had to with exhaustion. It was hot, humid, and both of these teams were playing their second game in just four days. Ceren was given a yellow card in the 108th minute, the last card of the match. The Dynamo did set up one last chance, taken by Luis Gil, who tried a bicycle kick on goal in the waning moments of the extra time. However, he missed just wide of the far post.
The shootout(highlights here) went in this order: Ceren: Goal, Beitashour: Goal. Memo: Goal, Kovar: Goal. Elis: Goal, Horta: Goal. Boniek: Blocked, Vela: Goal. Martinez: Goal, Ciman: Blocked. Gil: Goal, Harvey: Goal. Wenger: Goal, Rossi: Goal. Senderos: Goal, Blessing: Blocked
On that blocked Blessing shot the Houston Dynamo won the match 7-6 in the shootout.