The Houston Dynamo in the Round of 32 looking to continue the magic at home for the 2023 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match struck first against Sporting Kansas City and never looked back.
The Dynamo playing much like 2018 when they found magic in a bottle and won their first US Open Cup title, Houston moved on to the Round of 16 with a 1-0 win despite playing a man down for 55 minutes.
Thor Uhlfarrson, the Icelander looking to claim more playing time in the regular season, put Houston on top in the 12th minute of play with a left footed banger from 25 yards out. Kansas City had made the initial clearance off a quick counter but the ball landed right at the feet of Houston’s second year forward. A quick switch to the left foot and Uhlfarrson put it inside the near post past a diving John Puhlskamp.
The goal came just moments after SKC forward Stephen Afrifa missed from the doorstep. Sporting had other opportunities to level the match but could not find the equalizer against Dynamo keeper Andrew Tarbell who was peppered with 17 shots. Conversely, the shorthanded Dynamo only managed two shots and the only one that was on target was the one that went in.
In the 55th minute, Khiry Shelton knocked one off the post for Sporting. It was the second time in the match that the frame saved Houston. Chris Rindov’s header went off the crossbar in the opening half.
Neither side played a majority their top players yet Houston was able to secure their seventh clean sheet of the season across all competitions including six at home where they remain unbeaten in 2023 and have not been scored on. Dynamo head coach Ben Olsen was happy about the effort.
“Overall, super pleased with the result and we are moving on in the tournament. More so than that, it is just amazing what you can do when everybody is selfless and gives a complete effort,” described Olsen. “It’s a lot of guys that have not gotten a lot of minutes, not only up until this point, but also collectively. So the rhythms are off. I put them in a new structure from the get-go, that we worked on for a few days, and that wasn’t ever going to be perfect. So, at the end of all this kind of craziness, and in the game, somehow, we got through it.”
This matchup between Houston and Kansas City is becoming an Open Cup tradition in recent years. This was the sixth meeting between the two MLS sides, and those games have taken place in the last seven tournaments. With Wednesday’s win, the Dynamo have evened up the Open Cup series with the four-time Open Cup champions at 3-3. Only three sets of rivals in the Modern Era of the tournament had played more often than these two teams. (Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers FC top the list with eight meetings)
They now await the draw for the Round of 16 that takes place tomorrow at 1:00pm CT on the B/R Football YouTube Channel.