Despite the best efforts of Cinderella upstart FC Tucson, the Houston Dynamo had little trouble advancing to the Fourth Round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, scoring once in each half for a 2-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Wednesday night.
With their depth hit by injuries and national team call-ups, the Dynamo started two players who have spent time on loan this year: Brian Ownby (Richmond Kickers) and Alex Dixon (Tampa Bay Rowdies). The duo started and finished the game’s opening goal in the 26th minute. Ownby won possession near the halfway line and Luiz Camargo spread the ball to rookie Jason Johnson on the left. Johnson slipped a pass to fullback Mike Chabala making a run to the end line and Chabala cut the ball back to the penalty spot, where Dixon provided a deft one-time finish out of the reach of Tucson goalkeeper Dallas Jaye.
Having allowed the first goal for the third consecutive Open Cup game, FC Tucson stepped up its offensive efforts, with lone forward Saeed Robinson, a Division II all-American last year at Grand Canyon University, firing wide with several looks from the top of the area. Robinson then set up Tucson’s best chance of the half, cutting the ball back for David Clemens, who fired wide from the top of the box in the 38th minute.
The PDL team, which fields a mix of mostly West Coast current and former college players, including several from both the University of San Diego and Gonzaga University, were on their heels most of the night. Houston included veterans like Bobby Boswell, Chabala and Brian Ching (himself a Gonzaga alumnus) in an otherwise reserve-laden lineup that included professional debuts for rookie defender Anthony Arena and teenage signing Bryan Salazar.
Houston had one more good chance in the first half, with Salazar – who otherwise had a quiet evening – feeding a surging Ownby. The second-year man in turn fed Ching for a shot that was knocked away by Jaye, who was fortunate when Houston’s Johnson failed to make solid contact with the rebound.
Houston appeared on cruise control at times in the second half, but Tucson almost conjured an equalizer in the 69th minute when Clemens poked the ball away from the Houston back line. Substitute forward Dakota Collins raced onto the ball in the box, but his left-footed shot from a bad angle was stuffed by charging Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric, who then smothered the rebound at the edge of the penalty area.
From there Houston substitutes Andrew Driver and Giles Barnes combined to dominate the tired Tucson back line, eventually putting the game away in the 85th minute. Tucson’s Brandon Zimmerman was yellow-carded for hauling down Barnes at the top of the penalty area, and Barnes delivered a well-hit free kick just inside the right post from about 21 yards away.
From there, the Dynamo threatened to make it a rout, as Driver and Johnson combined for four close-range chances in the ensuing four minutes, but Jaye made three saves and got help from a defender to clear a soft header off the goal line to stay within two goals.
The win for Houston’s reserves sent the Dynamo to what could be a fierce rivalry game with Dallas on June 12. Both teams are off on the weekend before the match, and Houston is off the following weekend as well, which could lead both teams to pick strong lineups. The in-state rivals last met in Open Cup play in the 2006 quarterfinals, with the Dynamo winning 3-0 in Houston, but FC Dallas won the teams’ prior meeting this year, in Frisco, by a 3-2 score.
Tucson’s run came to an end, but it will not be forgotten in the Arizona desert any time soon. Tucson bowed out of its first Open Cup appearance after eliminating two professional teams – Phoenix FC and the San Antonio Scorpions – but fell short of the $15,000 prize money as the top amateur team in the competition as the Des Moines Menace defeated an NASL club (Minnesota United FC) in regulation. Since the remaining four PDL teams all lost in the Third Round, the tiebreaker goes to the team that defeated the highest level of competition.
FC Tucson vs. Houston Dynamo
May 29, 2013 — BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston TX
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup — Round 3
HOU: Alex Dixon 1 (Mike Chabala 1) 26
HOU: Giles Barnes 1 (unassisted) 85
FC Tucson: Dallas Jaye, Edgar Reyna, Travis Campbell, Greg Carter, Tim Harbison, Connor Brandt (Conner Bevans 64), Brandon Zimmerman, Eli Galbraith-Knapp, Ricardo Velazco, David Clemens (Stephen Poza 79), Saeed Robinson (Dakota Collins 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Michael D’Arrigo, Kevin Gould.
Houston Dynamo: Tyler Deric, Brian Ownby, Anthony Arena, Bobby Boswell, Mike Chabala, Luiz Camargo (Adam Moffat 83), Warren Creavalle, Alex Dixon, Bryan Salazar (Andrew Driver 61), Brian Ching (Giles Barnes 72), Jason Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Erich Marscheider, Eric Brunner, Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin.
TUC: Saeed Robinson (caution) 26
HOU: Warren Creavalle (caution) 71
HOU: Andrew Driver (caution) 75
TUC: Brandon Zimmerman (caution) 84
Officials: Referee: Eli Aguilar, AR1: Greg Boles, AR2: Daniel Vehabovic; fourth: Kyle Phillips
Shots: Houston 21, Tucson 7
Shots On Goal: Houston 9, Tucson 1
Saves: Tucson 7, Houston 1
Fouls: Houston 10, Tucson 4
Corner Kicks: Houston 8, Tucson 0
Offsides: Houston 1, Tucson 1