Written by David Garcia

The Houston Dynamo have defeated Real Salt Lake in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup advancing to the final where they will face Inter Miami. With that matchup happening & Miami already qualifying to Concacaf Champions Cup via Leagues Cup, the Dynamo have also earned spot in the next Concacaf Champions Cup.

In the early instances of the match, Dynamo controlled possession but RSL’s physicality would stop any danger from coming. In the 14th minute, Nelson Quinones attempted a long-range shot but it went just wide of the post. RSL’s physicality would continue but Griffin Dorsey would be the first to be booked in the 22nd minute. Both teams would earn a Yellow Card in the upcoming minutes and the deadlock would remain going into the five minutes of stoppage time. We would not enter the half tied as a weak clearance in the box from RSL fell to Amine Bassi who found Hector Herrera and his tap in would open the score up. The Dynamo would earn a Free Kick just moments after their opening goal. HH’s cross found Coco Carrasquilla and his beautiful back heel pass lead to a Corey Baird shot that would end in the back of net. Unfortunately, referee Lukas Szpala would check VAR and his check determined no goal for Houston due to Coco being offside. He would then blow the whistle for the end of the First Half.

The Dynamo would come out strong creating some chances and forcing a save. Ibrahim Aliyu would come in for Baird in the 61st minute. In the 64th minute, RSL would equalize on a header from Anderson Julio who was assisted by a Jefferson Savarino cross. The Dynamo would continue to attack and earn set pieces but RSL maintained their defense up. Ethan Bartlow came in for Micael in the 79th minute. Houston kept attacking the final third but they were unable to find a game winner and eventually after 5 minutes of stoppage time, the teams still remained after 90 minutes.

Two minutes into Extra Time, Coco would attempt a long range shot but it went just wide. Luis Caicedo would come on for a tired HH in the 96th minute.  In the 101st minute, Quinones would again try from long range but a fully extended Zac MacMath would send the ball out for a corner. It appeared as if we were going to continue tied for the second 15 minutes of Extra Time but Coco had other plans. Coco would receive a pass by Amine Bassi and would take the space given to him and with several RSL players around he shot just outside the box and he found the left bottom corner to give Houston the lead in the 105th of play. The Dynamo would make two changes in the 109th minute to maintain the lead. Coco was brought down in the box three minutes later by MacMath and frustration appeared to be coming out by RSL. Frustration would get the best out of Brayan Vera three minutes later and what was first a double Yellow turned into a straight Red after a VAR check. RSL would have six stoppage time minutes to try to send the game into penalties but the Dynamo said otherwise. After Caicedo won the ball near the box he passed it to Bassi and he would complete his hat trick of assists as Caicedo was left an open net. That would make it 3-1 for the Dynamo and moments after, Szpala blew for full time.

We asked Ben Olsen what it meant to advance to the final and secure a Concacaf Champions Cup slot. He stated that “We talked about creating a winning culture. That is one of the three things we continue to speak about. This is just a really good step for this group, and the organization. To put ourselves in a situation to play in the finals. It shows that there's at least some growth here. A proud day for me and the staff, the organization. Now we must enjoy it for the night but we play them again."  We also asked him how he will manage the tired legs. He responded by saying “We will bring some fresh bodies in. It gives us a chance to look at some guys that are excited to play and we will go in there and try to get a result”. We also asked Luis Caicedo about the help that Coco, Artur, and HH give him. He told us that “without them noticing, they have helped him raise his level because they have helped him improve”. In addition, “They help him have less margin of error”.

The men in Orange will face Inter Miami away on 9/27 in the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. but before that, they will continue MLS play as they are set to travel to Utah to face RSL again on 8/26.

Welcome back to the USOC Final & Concacaf Champions Cup, Houston Dynamo!