HOUSTON – With many of its regulars sitting out, the Houston Dynamo still had enough talent to advance to the next round of the U.S. Open Cup as they defeated amateur side NTX Rayados 5-0.
It took 55 minutes for the Dynamo to open the scoring but once La Naranja did, it opened the floodgates.
Alejandro Fuenmayor, who missed the Dynamo’s last two regular-season games due to suspension, sent a cross into Memo Rodriguez. The former Homegrown player received the ball and carved out some space for himself before blasting it past the outstretched hands of Rayados ‘keeper Eduardo Cortés.
The U.S. Open Cup is often seen as a tournament where MLS teams give an opportunity to youngsters and players who don’t see much action in the regular season, and the Dynamo were no different.
Ahead of the match, the Dynamo signed seven players from Rio Grande Valley FC, the team’s USL affiliate, to short contracts. Joining the Orange for the U.S. Open Cup match were defenders Omar Ontiveros and Manny Padilla, midfielders Jesus Enriquez, John Montaño, Todd Wharton and Matías Zaldívar, and forward Aldo Quintanilla.
Head coach Wilmer Cabrera said he expected his side to be more dynamic in the first half but with many players starting their first match and playing together for the first time, he understood it would take time for the team to find the game.
“It took us 25 minutes and then we started to create chances and dominating them,” Cabrera said. “But we couldn’t finish. Or the goalkeeper was saving them, or we couldn’t find the target and [put a shot] on frame. The first half was more like getting adjusted.”
Of the seven recently-signed players, Padilla, Wharton, and Quintanilla made the starting XI. The latter made a name for himself in the second half.
In the 68th minute, Quintanilla doubled up the lead on a counterattack. Dynamo midfielder Luis Gil picked out Quintanilla on the left wing and the forward was off to the races before slotting his shot past Cortés in the bottom right corner.
Quintanilla, who started his youth career with Liga MX sides Tigres UANL and Santos Laguna, impressed Cabrera with his play on Wednesday.
“He came and he showed how dangerous he is. How good he is looking at goal and creating options and moving and mobility,” Cabrera said. “He’s hungry and that’s something that impressed up. And he scored two goals so that’s something positive for him.”
Rodriguez — who put in a man of the match performance — continued the onslaught after Quintanilla’s goal. The diminutive midfielder stole the ball from an NTX Rayado and sprinted towards goal. He was in a 1v1 with the ‘keeper but before he could let it rip, he was brought down. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and awarded a second yellow to Rayados defender Burciaga, leaving the North Texas side with 10 men.
Rodriguez calmly stepped up and converted the penalty. Zaldívar added a fourth goal in the 88th minute and Quintanilla nabbed his second of the game in the 91st.
What led to this second-half Dynamo blitz on the amateur team?
“He [Cabrera] said we needed to come out aggressive in the second half and we had to put them away early in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “If not, you keeping teams like that around you give them more confidence and they can get a goal or two. Thankfully, we came out aggressive and we were clinical in our opportunities.”
The Dynamo now await Thursday’s draw to see who their next opponent will be. Houston has never won the tournament, only getting as far as the semifinals. How serious is the Orange taking the U.S. Open Cup tournament this year?
“As soon as you get engaged in this tournament, you want to win it. No doubt about it,” Cabrera said. “Today, we got engaged and the players got engaged and we all got engaged, so now we want to see the possibility to compete and if we can go all the way. We’re going to try to go all the way.”