Houston Dynamo Win the U.S. Open Cup
Houston Starting XI: Willis, Senderos, Fuenmayor, Wenger, Beasley(C), Cabezas, B. Garcia, Martinez, Quioto, Elis, Manotas
Houston Substitutes Used Used: Kevin Garcia on for Senderos(41st minute), Ceren on for B. Garcia(77th minute), Memo on for Quioto(83rd minute)
Philadelphia Starting XI: Blake, Trusty Elliot, Gaddis, Rosenberry, Bedoya(C), Dockal, Medunjanin, Sapong, Picault, Burke
Philadelphia Substitutes Used: Simpson on for Burke(68th minute), Accam on for Dockal(78th minute), Derrick Jones on for Haris Medujanin(89th minute)
The Dynamo opened last night ready to attack. Tomas Martinez had a couple of really slick passes in the opening minutes that set the tone for the game, and it was a tone of pace. The Dynamo had some sloppy mistakes that led to the ball getting away early but Houston was always quick to recover. This was exemplified by a focus on dispossessing Philadelphia in their own half, which definitely knocked the Union off their game plan. The scoring opened up in the fourth minute but at first, it seemed like it would be to the Union’s benefit. But, just after finding the back of the net, their goal was ruled to be offside by the sideline judge. The Dynamo transitioned quickly to attack. Soon, Elis found himself in the position to put a cross in and he didn’t disappoint sending a looping cross into the box for Manotas to head into the top of the net giving Manotas a tighter grip on his Dynamo record for most goals scored in a season.
HOU 1 PHI 0
Shortly after the goal was scored, Wenger and Medunjanin got into little spat. Both were warned with stern warnings. A tense moment in an incredibly tense and foul heavy match. Even by the seventh minute, there had been more than a couple of hard challenges and lots arguing with the head referee. Union players seemed especially frustrated with the lack of discipline handed down to Houston players after some particularly veracious tackles. Despite the Dynamo defending aggressively, Philadelphia challenged a lot and got into dangerous positions. It almost felt inevitable that the Union would score from the right wing with how much Picault had Wenger on speed. A couple of those runs from Picault led to sustained Union attacks, but Houston was defending as a unit in the box and managed to weather multiple offensives. The Dynamo did adjust to this around the 20th minute with B. Garcia dropping off at times to assist Wenger. Surprisingly, there were even more adjustments to come. Soon, the 25th minute came around and Manotas was on the ball charging towards the Union goal. He slickly weaved in and out of defenders on his way up to the top of the box, before shooting through the outstretched arms of Blake and off the post to complete his brace. The goal also gave Manotas the golden boot in the U.S. Open Cup.
HOU 2 PHI 0
Cabezas got a second warning in the 30th minute, but after that, the Dynamo started to make smarter challenges. Houston had settled into the game and was able to keep up a solid stream of attacks. The Dynamo were truly dominant on and off the ball towards the end of the second half. There was, however, a definite lack of creativity once they got the ball forward. Senderos came off late in the second half, but it didn’t look to be a grave injury.
The second half started off with some more aggressive play from the Dynamo. Elis committed a pretty rough foul in the first minute of the second half and was lucky not to receive a yellow card. This rubbed Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake the wrong way, and to be fair that warning was probably the fourth or fifth Elis had received up to that point. Philadelphia started to have more success in maintaining possession on the wings in the second half, allowing for bodies to get into the box. Surprisingly, the first yellow card of the match went to Dockal in the 51st after colliding with Tomas Martinez. Less than two minutes later, Tomas Martinez would follow suit, getting a yellow in the 53rd for persistent infringement on free kicks. At this point, it looked like A game ending with fewer than four cards was unlikely. Eight minutes later, Manotas would be shown a yellow card for failing to retreat from another free kick. On that same sequence, Cory Burke gave the Dynamo defense a scare in the 62nd with a half bicycle kick. Like so many Philadelphia shots on the night, Willis was able to slide over to grab it easily. Houston came back shortly after with Martinez getting into the box before being forced out. Martinez was able to recover and get the ball to Quioto who was waiting in the box and almost immediately took the shot. Blake was able to block the shot but in doing so he teed Auston Trusty up to launch the ball into his own net. A tough break for the young American, but the own goal gave the Dynamo a comfortable lead in the 65th minute.
HOU 3 PHI 0
Even though the game seemed to be locked up, Philadelphia still played their hearts out. They were immediately back on the attack, but couldn’t capitalize on anything despite getting eight or nine opportunities in the next 20 minutes. It wasn’t all poor play by the Union though. The Dynamo did well organizing themselves while defending their own box. B. Garcia was shown a yellow card in the 69th after a foul but, to my surprise, this would be the last card of the match. Like so many other nights, Houston began to lose the edge in after the 70th minute. The midfield had multiple misplaced passes on the counter, and the Dynamo spent most of the time on the defense. This might have been an issue, but Philadelphia was unable to put any decent shots on target squandering multiple quality opportunities. Houston managed to string together a couple of quality opportunities in the waning minutes of the second half, but they didn’t need to come anything. In the end, it just served to help run out the clock
Final Score: HOU 3 PHI 0
With the victory last night, the Houston Dynamo have won the U.S Open Cup and the $250,000 prize on the line. The win also earns the Dynamo a spot to compete in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. Houston will be in the more favorable pot two for this December’s draw deciding the matchups for the round 16 which will start in February of 2019. More importantly, the Dynamo showed that they still have something in the tank for this season. The whole team seemed to be on point and focused which hasn’t been the norm. It was also incredibly encouraging to see A.J. De La Garza on the bench and Cabezas play a full 90 minutes.
The Dynamo will try to transfer the momentum from their first U.S. Open Cup Final victory into a home match against San Jose this upcoming Saturday.