HOUSTON – When it comes to U.S. Open Cup games, the Houston Dynamo prefer to do their scoring in the second half.
That was true in their fourth-round matchup against amateur side NTX Rayados — where the Orange scored five times — and it proved true once again against Minnesota United FC on Monday.
And against the Loons, La Naranja did it two minutes after halftime when Mauro Manotas notched his fifth career U.S. Open Cup goal.
Adam Lundqvist, who was making his first start at left back after seeing time at right back with Andrew Wenger’s injury, whipped in a corner kick to the near post. Mauro Manotas outran two Minnesota defenders to the near post and head it backward. The header surprised Loons ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth who could only throw his hands up in an attempt to deflect it.
The assist is Lundqvist’s first as a Dynamo and the Swede was excited to finally play his preferred position.
“I felt good, I guess that is my favorite position. I played there the last couple of years and I think I can get my own game, the things that I’m best at and I can get them,” Lundqvist said on finally getting to play left back. “I can show them more on my left foot, on my left side, so yeah it felt good.”
The first half was nothing to write home about. Minnesota came out firing on all cylinders but had no dangerous shot to show for it. Houston didn’t fare any better. Aside from a long-range shot from Dynamo midfielder Luis Gil, which Shuttleworth confidently saved, Houston was unable to create dangerous scoring opportunities.
“We were a little bit erratic with the ball when passing and with our movements. You can consider that normal because some of the guys haven’t been able to play consistently, but they worked hard,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “In the second half, I think we improved. We came off much better — more energetic, sharper. We created some options.”
Unlike the game versus NTX Rayados, in which Houston used a mixture of their bench players and recently signed players from their USL-affiliate Rio Grande Valley FC, the Dynamo opted to start a couple starters.
Manotas, Lundqvist, Alejandro Fuenmayor, and Eric Alexander, were some of the regulars inserted into the lineup. The Loons, however, played their first-choice lineup, including their first-ever Designated Player, Darwin Quintero.
Quintero, who’s been worth every penny for the Loons this season after being acquired in March, had the chance to send the game into extra time in the 88th minute when he stepped up to take a penalty.
The Colombian stepped up to the spot. He took a couple of steps towards the ball before letting his shot rip but his effort would clank off the post.
Five minutes later, the referee would blow his whistle signaling the end of the game.
Houston now sets their sights on the next round of the U.S. Open Cup in July where they will face off against an old rival, Sporting KC.
“The next [U.S. Open Cup] game will be here at home, July 18, and that game against Sporting Kansas City is an important one for us,” Cabrera said. “Let’s hope that at that moment we have a team that’s competitive and that we can continue advancing in this tournament because we’re close now.”
And as fate would have it, Houston’s next MLS game is Saturday on the road against Sporting KC.