Last year, the Charleston Battery defeated the Houston Dynamo in the Third Round of the US Open Cup at Blackbaud Stadium, but it took extra time to do so. This year produced the same result, but penalty kicks were needed this time around. Charleston beat Houston 4-3 in penalties after extra time resulted in a 1-1 draw, sending the Battery to the Quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
Charleston controlled much of the first half, finally punching through in the 31st minute, when Osvaldo Alonso took a free kick from outside the box on the left side, which found Ian Fuller’s head and eventually landed at the feet of Marco Reda, who put it past Dynamo keeper Tony Caig for the 1-0 lead. The second half was a much different story. In the 55th minute, a shot by Franco Caraccio was destined for goal, but Stephen Armstrong was there to clear it off the line. Then it started to really fall apart for the Battery.
In the 74th minute, recent sub Chris Corcoran was given a straight red card after he fouled Chris Wondolowski. Charleston looked to hold on for the last 16 minutes, but it wasn’t to be. A ball served into the box from Chris Wondolowski was headed by Franco Caraccio to Chris’ brother Stephen, who headed it home in the 89th minute to tie the game for Houston. Extra time saw both teams moving somewhat cautiously, but a 102nd minute red card by Marco Reda put the Battery down to nine men for the rest of the match.
Penalties are mostly a guessing game, but there was no guessing needed by Battery keeper Dusty Hudock when on Houston’s third try with the score tied at 2, Geoff Cameron chipped the shot well over the net, giving Charleston the advantage. The Battery led 4-3 heading into the fifth round, which brought pressure on newcomer Franco Caraccio to score the goal that would keep Houston alive. He went left. Hudock dove to his right, making the save and giving Charleston the victory.
Charleston will now travel to Pizza Hut Park next Tuesday to play Houston’s Texas rivals, FC Dallas. Coincidentally, Dallas has knocked out the Battery in the last two Open Cups, needing extra time (or more) to do so on both occasions.