Fabian Castillo, he who has tormented the Houston Dynamo over the years (but strangely not this year, until now) scored a shocking goal just into stoppage time to push FC Dallas into the semi-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Wednesday evening with a 1 – 0 victory.
The first half happened.
Once the second half began, the Dynamo came out strong and looked to put their rivals under immediate pressure. Chances from Mauro Manotas, Andrew Wenger and Giles Barnes weren’t finished as Chris Seitz was only forced into a couple of routine saves. As has been the MO under interim-head coach Wade Barrett, the offense created only a few real chances that weren’t converted into shots on goal.
Houston’s best chance came about halfway into the half when Manotas found himself on the right side of the box, a half step ahead of his defender. Despite a tight angle, he rocketed a shot that beat Seitz but ricocheted off the cross bar and fell to the feet of Barnes. The followup shot was blocked by a defender to eliminate the threat. Speaking of the Jamaican International, he had a fantastic opportunity off a lay-off from Cristian Maidana but his shot lacked any power and was all too easy for Seitz to hold onto.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however. Dallas had several opportunities in the second half, both from Michael Barrios. In both cases, the striker made excellent runs to beat the offside trap (a rare feat) and get a shot from point blank range. Both times Joe Willis came up big to deny the Colombian striker.
Manotas had a very similar chance when Abdoulie Mansally whipped a cross in to the six yard box. The Colombian youth international was unmarked and collected the ball smoothly but Seitz made himself just big enough to deflect the shot out for a corner kick.
As the half wore on, both sets of players looked more and more exhausted. It seemed destined for extra time and possibly penalty kicks. Castillo got right at the near post and snuck his shot in off of Willis’ leg just as the clock rolled into stoppage time. He was unmarked at the post.
Goalkeepers hate nothing more than to give up near-post goals (well, except for this) and this one will stick with Willis for a while. Not all his fault as one can’t help but look at the defense on that play.
Despite a very late substitution of Will Bruin, Houston couldn’t generate much offense sans one free kick that was eerily familiar to the winner against the Philadelphia Union. Sadly the magic wasn’t in the building, though Pokemon will be, and Chaco’s attempt was well wide of the far post.
So what now? The season is most assuredly over (more on that later) and now so is the US Open Cup. What is there for fans to follow for the last 3 and a half months? There is still El Capitan to play for. So long as Houston doesn’t lose to Dallas by 5 or more goals in their final meeting, they’ll win back the cannon. And you can bet that if that happens, fans will travel up there immediately to haul it back, as happened (ridiculously) a few years ago when Dallas won it.
There is also the matter of the Wooden Spoon. Fortunately the Dynamo have a couple of other teams desperately trying not to win it. The current holders are the Chicago Fire who are putting up an admirable effort to retain the dubious honor. So too are the Seattle Sounders who, despite a blowout against Dallas the other day, have looked listless and as clueless offensively as Houston.
Houston’s Man of the Match was Mansally, who had many spectacular tackles to rob Dallas of goal scoring opportunities. His defense was superb on a night when the team needed it. His work going forward wasn’t half bad, either. Not as effective as the injured DaMarcus Beasley but better than in his previous stints.
The Dynamo will stay at home and face off against the Vancouver Whitecaps, recently upgraded with the trade for Fabian Espindola. Dallas heads on the road in a crucial match against the high-flying Colorado Rapids. Their opponent in the Open Cup semi-final will be either Seattle or LA Galaxy. Details will be announced Thursday morning.
Keeper Notes photographer, Gia Quilap, was on hand to take pictures during the match. Enjoy these Keeper Notes photos from Houston Dynamo vs FC Dallas game.
“By Gia Quilap”
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