The Houston Dynamo beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 in extra time to advance to the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final on Wednesday at Shell Energy Stadium in Houston.
Héctor Herrera, Adalberto Carrasquilla, and Luís Caicedo scored in the win. Amine Bassi provided assists for all three of Houston’s goals.
Houston will face Lionel Messi and Inter Miami in South Florida in the championship game on Sept. 27 at an undetermined site.
This is Houston’s second Open Cup Final. In 2018 the Dynamo captured the club’s first Open Cup title with a 3-0 win at home over the Philadelphia Union.
It was clear from the opening whistle RSL was going to do everything possible to disrupt the fluid possession-orientated attack Houston has become known for under first-year coach, Ben Olsen. RSL’s Jefferson Savarino set the tone of the match early with his second-minute foul on Houston’s captain, Herrera.
The chippy game made it difficult for either team to establish any real rhythm as the first half progressed. Houston’s Griffin Dorsey was shown the first of 10 yellow cards on the night in just the 22nd minute for a bad foul on Braian Ojeda, followed by Herrera in the 38th for a hard foul on RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath. RSL’s Brayan Vera was also shown yellow in resulting scuffle following the foul on the goalkeeper.
With just moments left in added time, Herrera broke the deadlock thanks to a gift from RSL defender Andrew Brody. Brody’s failed clearance fell to the feet of Bassi, who played Herrera a square ball only a few yards from an all-but-open goal five minutes into stoppage time.
Still reeling from the defensive miscue, it looked like things went from bad to worse for RSL when Corey Baird took advantage of yet another ball bungled by the RSL back line eight minutes into stoppage time. After a long look at the replay the goal was called back when it was determined Baird came from an offside position to score.
In the second half, Houston came out seeming to finally have wrangled some semblance of control of the game. Carrasquilla, Baird, and Franco Escobar all had decent chances early on in the second half.
The tide turned somewhat for RSL when captain and Open Cup leading scorer, Damir Kreilach was replaced by Anderson Julio in the 56th minute.
Eight minutes after coming on, Julio outjumped the entire Houston defense to slam-dunk a header from close range to level the score at one.
After nearly half an hour of choppy, chippy play, and the sultry night wearing negatively affecting both team’s execution in front of goal, the game went to extra time.
Again it was a defensive blunder from RSL, turning over the ball dangerously close to their own goal, and again it was the cool head of Bassi, this time finding Carrasquilla in front of the goal. Carrasquilla easily pushed the ball around a desperate defender and slammed the ball past a helpless MacMath to put the hosts back into the lead.
Things went from bad to worse for RSL when Vera lost all semblance of composure after getting tangled up field. Vera swung wildly as the fresh-legged Caicedo glided past him, striking him violently in the face. Vera stood over the felled Caicedo, offering his opinion on the matter before players from both sides intervened. Vera was immediately shown his second yellow card of the match, resulting in his expulsion. During the review process, the yellow card was rescinded and he was given a straight red card for the violent conduct.
But it was Caicedo who had the last laugh, once again taking advantage of the RSL defender’s discomfort with the ball. Sufficiently recovered from the bludgeoning he received from Vera, Caicedo’s tireless pressure paid off when he won possession of the ball close to goal. Caicedo found Bassi inside the penalty area, who played him right back, giving Caicedo a simple finish to the far post for Houston’s third goal on the night mere seconds before the final whistle.
With the win, Houston becomes just the eighth Texas club to reach the Final.