Houston Dynamo opponents don’t just find wins hard to come by at BBVA Compass Stadium, but goals are even a tall task in Texas.
Minnesota United FC became the Dynamo’s third straight shutout victim in all competitions as Houston made Mauro Manotas’ 47th minute glancing header stand up in a 1-0 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Fifth Round victory Monday night before 1,930 fans.
“I think we got the result we wanted,” said Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who had five saves in the shutout and survived a furious Minnesota comeback in the closing 30 minutes, including a penalty kick attempt in the 87th minute that smacked off the right post.
Houston, which has not lost at home since March, will host defending US Open Cup champion Sporting Kansas City in the Quarterfinals on July 18. It will be the fourth straight year that Sporting KC and the Dynamo have squared off in the Open Cup with Kansas City having won two of the last three, including last year’s 2-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium in the Round of 16.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath. “I thought it was a little bit too late. I learned a valuable lesson today about this group, both individually and collectively, that will certainly help us moving forward. We’ve got to the stage now where we have to start to make some difficult and hard decisions on people and that is what we will do. I think tonight will turn out to be a really good night in the long term.”
With Monday night’s contest coming in the middle of the MLS two-week World Cup break, neither squad put in their normal starting 11, which might have partly accounted for a lackluster first half that saw one shot on goal for the two teams combined.
“We were a little bit erratic with the ball when passing with our movements. You can consider that normal because some of the guys haven’t been able to play consistently, but they worked hard,” said Houston head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “In the second half, I think we improved. We came out much better – more energetic, sharper.”
It took the Dynamo just 90 seconds into the second half to break the deadlock as defender Adam Lundqvist, acquired by Houston on April 26 from IF Elfsborg in Sweden, sent in a curling left-footed corner kick to the near post, where Manotas perfectly timed a run and let the ball glance off his head and by Minnesota keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
It added to Manotas’ club-best five career goals in US Open Cup play and it was Lundkvist’s first points since joining the Dynamo.
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“I saw the excitement of the crowd and also saw Manotas come in just perfect, and it was a great call … just shows the type of goal scorer he is,” said Lundqvist. “He had perfect control with his head, and yeah, it felt amazing to see it going in.”
By the 56th minute, Houston had out-shot Minnesota, 12-5, in the contest and it appeared that the Loons offense was still waiting at baggage claim, but Minnesota peppered Seitz and Co. in the final 30 minutes with eight shots including four on target.
“I think we kind of stopped trying to play the ball, trying to play a little bit more possession, and they took the ball and they took the risk,” said Cabrera. “They were sending some guys up front and they created some options.”
Minnesota, which didn’t score in their first US Open Cup match this season, a win at Cincinnati FC in penalty kicks after a scoreless game, appeared poised to finally find the back of the net when Loon midfielder Miguel Ibarra was toppled in the air on a cross whipped in by Alexi Gomez. There wasn’t a lot of contact on the play but center referee Guido Gonzalez, Jr., pointed to the penalty spot.
“I think it’s one of those plays where they whipped a good, dangerous ball in to the back post … I don’t know if he was touched. I didn’t see that because I was following the ball, but the referee thought he saw something there and they called it,” said Seitz.
Darwin Quintero stepped up to the penalty spot for Minnesota and smacked the ball off the right post.
“These are the games you can win the championship with,” said Lundqvist. “I mean on a bad day, if you can still get to the next round … it’s huge. Also, cliché, but a little luck on our side.”
Cabrera tried to pad Houston’s slim advantage in the second half with the substation of three starters – Honduran forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto as well as playmaker midfielder Tomas Martinez – but the Dynamo had to defend through four minutes of stoppage time to secure the win.
The Houston coach was pleased that he was able to get 90 minutes of playing time for center back Philippe Senderos, who is returning from injury, and got a good luck at Kevin Garcia at right back. Lundqvist, who has been playing out of position at right back since joining the Dynamo, was able to play in his more natural left back spot Monday as Houston captain DaMarcus Beasley had the night off.
Beasley was a mainstay with the US Men’s National Team and Monday’s goal scorer, 22-year-old Manotas, is working toward his goal of someday representing his country of Colombia at the World Cup.
“That is why I work every day. I wake up dreaming that I’m with the national team of Colombia,” said Manotas.
The Dynamo out-shot Minnesota, 14-13, in the win and The Dynamo picked up 19 fouls on the evening while the Loons were whistled just six times.
The Dynamo advance to the Quarterfinals for the third time in the last four years and the sixth time in club history. Houston is still seeking the club’s first trip to the US Open Cup Final with their best finish coming in a pair of Semifinal runs in 2006 and 2009.