For the third time in four years — and sixth overall in club history — the Houston Dynamo are in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup after grinding out a 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC. The win improves Houston’s record in the Open Cup to 14-11-1. Here are three things we learned:
Dynamo stars take night off
As opposed to Minnesota United FC, which started a first-choice lineup, the Dynamo opted for a lineup that was a mixture of regular starters and players who have not seen many minutes. Among the starters were Mauro Manotas, Adam Lundqvist, Alejandro Fuenmayor and Eric Alexander. Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera everything went according to plan.
Dynamo ‘keeper Chris Seitz, who started the game, said it was important to give those guys minutes and it will pay dividends for the team on the road as the season progresses.
Cabrera added he wanted to give minutes to Luis Gil, Arturo Álvarez and Memo Rodríguez because “they haven’t been starting games so often. They need that type of situation. They needed that type of competition and I think it was positive.”
Regular starters Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Tomás Martinez did see the field in the second half in order to prepare them for Saturday’s showdown against Sporting KC.
Senderos racks up minutes
Dynamo centerback Philippe Senderos played the full 90. For a team with a rash of injuries lately in defense, plus Adolfo Machado away on national duty with Panama at the World Cup, seeing the Swizz go the distance was a positive for the Orange.
Although there was a scare for Senderos in the first half.
“It was really important for him [Senderos] and he had a good game, even though he almost got a broken leg after a tackle in the first 15 minutes that it wasn’t even a yellow card,” Cabrera said.
As the MLS season picks back up after a short break, having Senderos healthy will be a huge boost for the Dynamo as they battle for a playoff spot in a tight Western Conference.
Grinding out a win
The game wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the mind. Houston’s first half was forgetful and the last 10-15 minutes of the second half looked like the Dynamo were set to let Minnesota level the game. But the Dynamo prevailed, grinding out the win with tough defense and a bit of luck, as Loons’ Designated Player Darwin Quintero missed a penalty.
Sometimes in soccer, it’s not about playing pretty but about getting the win.
“These are the games you can win the championship with. I mean on a bad day, if you can still get to the next round, and get three points, it’s huge. Also, cliché, but a little luck on our side,” Lundqvist said. “We worked really hard during the whole 90 minutes of the game and I think it was not pretty today, but all wins count and yeah it was a great feeling.”