Darwin Quintero of Minnesota celebrates one of his goals with teammate Ethan Finlay in a Round of 16 match against the Houston Dynamo in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Jose Castellanos Vos_Castellanos on Twitter and Instagram
Darwin Quintero’s second half brace ignited a stunning come-from-behind 3-2 win, propelling the visiting Minnesota United FC to its first-ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Quarterfinal round. Minnesota’s three goals in 23 minutes erased a 2-0 deficit and eliminated the defending US Open Cup champion Houston Dynamo in front of their home fans.
Houston began the match strong but seemed to wither as the game went on. Goals by Ronaldo Pena (9’) and Tomas Martinez (37’) staked Houston to a 2-0 halftime lead who seemed to be in control of the match much like last week in their Third Round game against Austin Bold FC (USL Championship).
Despite falling behind, the Loons were not about to go down without a fight.
“The guys just persevered, we’ve grown a lot since last year,” described MUNFC forward Mason Toye who had the game-winner. “I think last year we don’t come back from that game. But over the course of this year we’ve done a great job of learning how to get results out of games and we’ve had a tough go at it every time we’ve come down to Houston. We were like, ‘It’s going to change tonight’, and we’ve proved that. It’s a really big opportunity for us to possibly get a championship. It’s definitely a winnable tournament.”
Houston goalkeeper Michael Nelson, in his professional debut, put on a performance worthy of the top keepers in the game, providing four spectacular saves in a span of nine minutes that had preserved Houston’s two-goal lead. In the 66th minute, an unmarked Darwin Quintero tapped home a pass from Angelo Rodriguez to cut the Houston lead in half.
The Minnesota forward completed the brace sixteen minutes later, firing a laser from distance pulling the match level at two in the 82nd minute. For Quintero, it was his fourth US Open Cup goal, which puts him into a tie for the tournament lead with Charles Boateng (Richmond Kickers) and Brandon Vazquez (Atlanta United FC). His six career tournament goals puts him firmly on top of the club’s all-time scoring list. No one else has more than one in the club’s brief three-year history.
Players from Minnesota United celebrate one of the club’s goals in a Round of 16 match against the Houston Dynamo in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Jose Castellanos Vos_Castellanos on Twitter and Instagram
Much like last week’s effort against Austin Bold FC, Houston played most of the second half in the defensive third rather than pushing the tempo, allowing Minnesota to gain confidence and momentum. The Loons’ third goal of the second half came in the 89th minute. Toye, a second half substitute, touched home the game-winner. Ethan Finlay beat a tired Houston rookie defender Sam Junqua into the box, drawing the keeper and the remaining defense toward him before sliding the ball to Toye who notched his first professional goal.
All three Minnesota forwards accounted for the Loons second half outburst.
Prior to the loss, Houston had advanced in six straight games in Open Cup play dating back to last season. Houston had been seeking to become the first back-to-back winner since the Seattle Sounders did it in 2010 and 2011.
With the win, Minnesota reaches the Quarterfinals for the first time in club history, dating back to its Division 2 pro days in the North American Soccer League. They are the first Minnesota team to reach the Round of Eight since the Minnesota Thunder (USL First Division, Div. 2 pro) made their magical run to the Semifinals in 2005.
Minnesota will host the winner of Wednesday night’s FC Dallas-New Mexico United match in July.