Going into Tuesday night, the focus was mainly on the Chicago Fire. They were the ones at home at SeatGeek Stadium. They were the ones going after a historic fifth US Open Cup title. They were the ones who really needed a win. The Houston Dynamo did not care for any of that. They rocked up and outplayed the hosts for most of the contest, ultimately coming away with a 4-1 victory to book their spot in the Semifinals of the competition.
“I’m super excited to just keep moving in this tournament,” said Houston head coach Ben Olsen. “We’ve advanced in an important competition, one we’ve taken seriously from the start, and we’re looking forward to being in the Semifinals and trying to create a culture of winning.”
After a back-and-forth start to the contest, Houston opened the scoring. Arnaud Souquet tripped up a streaking Nelson Quiñónes, and the referee decided that it was enough contact to point to the spot. Amine Bassi stepped up to take the spot-kick, and he calmly converted it with a powerful strike down the middle.
“It took a little sting out of the crowd. They’re a good team, and it was a good atmosphere,” Olsen said.
Bassi had a big chance to double the advantage about five minutes later, as a loose ball fell perfectly to him on the edge of the penalty area. His first-time effort was decent, but Spencer Richey was able to make the important save.
It was 2-0 at the half hour mark, though. Hitting on the break, the Dynamo had two men flying forward. Ibrahim Aliyu was on the ball, and he smartly went for goal himself, passing the ball towards the near post and into the back of the net.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) June 7, 2023
Things were looking bad for the hosts, but they found a lifeline before the break. A corner picked out Arnaud Souquet, and his header was perfect, as he redirected the ball into the bottom corner to halve the deficit.
The Fire came out hot to start the second half, and they were robbed of a clear penalty. Brian Gutiérrez was brought down by an onrushing Andrew Tarbell, who missed the ball completely. However, the referee saw otherwise, giving a corner kick instead of a penalty, showing the need for VAR in this part of the USOC.
Despite their spell of dominance, it was the Dynamo who scored next. A mazy run from Quiñónes led to him getting a strong shot off, and even though his attempt was saved, the rebound fell right to Aliyu for an easy tap-in.
“We dodged a couple of bullets in the first half, and we did a better job in the second half in terms of fixing things,” Olsen said. “It was a scrappy game. The field wasn’t perfect, and that led to more duels. It becomes more of a true cup game, a true fight. We had to make sure we were up for that.”
Chicago sent bodies forward in search of a goal, but that cost them. Houston hit on the break once again, with Héctor Herrera blowing by his marker before setting up Quiñónes for a simple finish at the back post.
— U.S. Open Cup (@opencup) June 7, 2023
“The goal was a reward for a really good performance,” Olsen said when asked about Quiñónes. “He’s simplified his game and boiled it down to the areas where he can have success. Offensively he’s got real pace and quality and technical ability. His talent is scary. He also gave a real shift on the defensive end, constantly getting back in the right spot, constantly helping match the numbers down the flank.”
“Our transition was good,” Olsen said. “Seeing out goals in the run of the play has been better as of late, but scoring goals and that final ball has haunted us, so it was nice to score a bunch tonight.”
That killed off the contest, and the Dynamo held on to secure the victory. They now await the winner of Wednesday’s Quarterfinal between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
“When we came here we wanted to change the culture. Wins help change that,” Olsen said. “It’s nice to advance, get to the Semifinals, put yourself in a spot to be two games away from a trophy. It won’t be easy, every round gets more difficult, but we’re thrilled to be one of the remaining four teams.”