The defending US Open Cup champion Houston Dynamo started off their title defense with a nail-biting 3-2 win over Austin Bold FC on Tuesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Houston opened with a dominating first 45 with goals by Tomas Martinez, Ronaldo Pena and Matias Vera, but had to hold on after Austin answered with two second half goals.
Martinez opened the scoring with his first career US Open Cup goal in the 14th minute of play. After forward Marlon Hairston’s attempt was blocked, the deflection fell to the feet of Martinez and he put away the opening tally. It was his third goal of the season across all competition in 2019.
Seventeen minutes later, Martinez would assist on Ronaldo Pena’s first goal of the season coming in his first start following a preseason injury. Houston’s No. 10 pulled the keeper Diego Restrepo and the Austin defense to the near post before slipping the ball to Pena who delivered, doubling the Houston lead.
Houston seemed in complete control when an unmarked Matias Vera blasted home a ball off a perfectly timed heel pass from Pena. The forward bulled his way past the remaining Austin defense and slotted home the marker giving Houston a three goal lead heading into the halftime locker room.
Austin Bold worked its way back into the match pulling to within a goal as the teams neared the hour mark. Former Chivas great Xavier Baez scored off a free kick in the 48th minute and forward Isaac Promise scored in the 58th minute but it was too little too late as Austin Bold FC could not find the equalizer.
“I don’t know if you saw the same game we saw but it was two different teams,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera lamented following the match. “I’m disappointed and also I offer my apologies to the fans that made the effort to come over here and watch that second half from our team. We just played 45 minutes.”
The win moved Houston into the Round of 16 for the sixth straight year. US Soccer will conduct a draw at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, June 14 to determine the opponents for games to be played on June 18th and 19th.