The Houston Dynamo celebrate the 2018 US Open Cup championship. Photo: Jose Castellanos | Twitter: @Vos_Castellanos, IG: @FutbolAndBrews
From Alejandro Moreno’s first-ever Houston Dynamo US Open Cup goal to Mauro Manotas’ brace in the 2018 Final, the Houston Dynamo’s quest for a US Open Cup championship has ended.
Moreno’s goal came in the 29th minute on August 2, 2006 against the PDL’s Carolina Dynamo. Twelve years, one month and 24 days later, the Dynamo hoisted the 2018 US Open Cup championship. The 3-0 win capped a summer that had seen Houston struggle in MLS play and flourish in Open Cup play.
Manotas has made a career of scoring goals in the US Open Cup. In less than four seasons since signing in 2015, the young Columbian is the most prolific goalscorer in Dynamo history, adding two more on Wednesday night to bring his career total to 10 goals in nine tournament games. His two goals also earned him the 2018 US Open Cup goalscoring title, as he tied the single-tournament record for the Modern Era (1995-present) with six goals.
“When you play a final you don’t need to motivate much,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Too much talking is not good. You need to be disciplined and understand that everyone is nervous, everyone is high on adrenaline. We had to be disciplined, organized and play to our strengths. When we had the chances we had to be sure to put those away and it couldn’t work out any better for us.”
With the win, the Dynamo become the first South Texas team in tournament’s 105-year history to lift the trophy.
It didn’t take long for the streamers to start flying at the 2018 Final in Houston, Texas. On a counter, Alberth Elis’ service into the box found a crouching Manotas who headed it home. The 23-year-old’s goal in the fourth minute of play was all the Dynamo needed to claim their first ever Cup championship. It was tied with D.C. United’s Luciano Emilio for the fastest goal of the Modern Era. Emilio’s goal was scored in the 2008 Final in a 2-1 win over the Charleston Battery (USL).
Philadelphia pressured the Houston defense for much of the night. Willis faced 19 shots overall in recording a clean sheet and moving to 12-3 all-time in Open Cup play. Willis won his second career US Open Cup title after he led D.C. United to four straight wins before starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid took over in the 2013 championship game where they defeated Real Salt Lake, 1-0.
Manotas completed the brace in the 25th minute. After receiving a pass from the right wing from Elis, Manotas dribbled to his left across the top of the box before rifling home a low shot off the near post. The two goals gave Manotas 20 goals in all competitions, a single-season record for the Dynamo. The Colombian also became just the fourth player in the Modern Era to score multiple goals in a Final, and is just the fifth to score multiple goals in a championship game in a career.
“I can say that he’s a fantastic professional,” exuded Cabrera after the game. “He’s a fantastic top scorer, and we’re lucky to have him. Because every day he’s growing in all aspects, not only as a player but as a person, he’s more mature and he’s only 22, 23-years-old.And with him, he’s been professional on-and-off the field, so it’s impressive– and being that young. So it’s very good and we’re happy for him.”
A two-goal advantage, especially in the US Open Cup is not insurmountable, but a second half own goal by the Union seemed to dash any hopes of a comeback. In the 65th minute, Romell Quioto received the ball on the left side of the box with plenty of space for a shot. He fired it toward the far post and Andre Blake dove to his left to make the save but the rebound deflected to the foot of Auston Trusty who appeared to try to clear the ball out for a corner kick. Instead, the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Trusty’s look of devastation after the own goal — just the fifth own goal scored in a championship game in tournament history — summed up Philadelphia’s night as the Union would finish runner-up for the third time in the last five years. They are the first Modern Era club to lose three championship games, and they become just the fifth team in Open Cup history to finish runner-up three times.
Houston defender DaMarcus Beasley won his third career US Open Cup title (Chicago Fire 2000, 2003), and with the win, he breaks the Modern Era record for biggest gap in between Cup titles with 15 years. (Previous record: Jaime Moreno of D.C. United with 12 years from 1996-2008). Backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz won his second title in three years after helping rival FC Dallas lift the trophy in 2016. Dylan Remick did not play but he wins a second career US Open Cup title (2014 – Seattle Sounders FC). Andrew Wenger, who played in both US Open Cup Finals for the Union in 2014 and 2015, including missing the final penalty kick in the 2015 Final, played all 90 minutes and wins his first US Open Cup title.
With the win, the Dynamo win $300,000 in prize money (the Union received $100,000), and a berth in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.