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A Tale of Two Halves: Dynamo Eliminated from US Open Cup

After leading 2-0 at halftime and looking comfortable, the Dynamo conceded 3 second half goals to end their reign as USOC Champion.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Minnesota United FC at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Wilemr Cabrera sent out a second choice lineup Tuesday night as the Dynamo continued the defense of their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship at BBVA Stadium against Minnesota United and everything seemed to be going well after 45 minutes. However a full strength Minnesota came roaring back in the second half to knock the Dynamo off their throne, eliminating the champions, 3-2.

After a quick start to the match for the Dynamo, Houston opened the scoring in the 9th minute, off of a corner kick. Ronaldo Pena was on the doorstep to tap the ball home after Minnesota goalkeeper Vito Mannone gave up a rebound. It was Pena’s second goal in two USOC games this season. There were shouts for offside from Minnesota players and the match commentators but there is no VAR in the US Open Cup so the goal stood.

The Loons had their first real chance in the 25th minute as their star attacker Darwin Quintero attempted to slalom through the Dynamo back line. A great tackle by Alejandro Fuenmayor shut down the play and kept Houston in front.

The Dynamo doubled their lead in the 37th minute thanks to a Minnesota mistake. Marlon Hairston pressured a pass to midfielder Jan Gregus and turned it over, right in to the path of Tomas Martinez. Martinez sized up Mannone one on one and made no mistake. Martinez was able to get space after Pena set a pick on Minnesota defender Ike Opara. But again, with no VAR, the goal stood. Martinez’s goal was his second of the tournament after scoring and assisting in last week’s 3-2 win over Austin Bold FC.

Dynamo goalkeeper Michael Nelson was tested in the 41st minute as Quintero fizzed a free kick into the box in the 41st minute. No Minnesota players were able to get a touch and Nelson collected calmly. Nelson, a Houston native, made his competitive debut for the Dynamo in tonight’s match after previously only being featured in last year’s Charities Cup match against Monterrey.

The first half came to a close with the Dynamo up 2-0 and dominating the match with 10 shots to Minnesota’s 5. However, the second half would be a much different story.

Both teams made a change at the half with Matias Vera replacing Boniek Garcia for Houston and Miguel Ibarra coming on for Eric Miller for Minnesota.

Minnesota got off to a hot start in the second half as they attempted to cut into the Dynamo lead in the 54th minute. A Gregus corner found the head of Ibarra and his header was redirected on goal but Nelson was up to the task, making a great save to parry the ball away. Just minutes later Nelson was up to the task again, punching away a long distance shot in the 58th minute.

On the ensuing corner, Nelson made the best save of his young career, absolutely stonewalling Angelo Rodriguez from 5 yards outs.

The Michael Nelson show continued on the hour mark with the Dynamo keeper stuffing Ibarra from 8 yards out.

Minnesota United finally found their breakthrough after 66 minutes. Rodriguez received the ball in the box and turned Kevin Garcia. Rodriguez got to the end line and found Quintero for an easy tap-in.

Quintero nearly had his brace just 2 minutes later as his curling free kick was nicely saved by Nelson diving to his right. The Minnesota pressure continued with Gregus firing wide after 71 minutes.

The Dynamo got their first real chance of the second half in the 74th minute when Juan David Cabezas did well on the sideline to keep a ball in play and drive forward. He played in substitute Michael Salazar but his shot was right at Mannone.

Quintero’s brace was coming and came in style in the 82nd minute. The Colombian smashed the equalizer into the side netting past Nelson from 30 yards out. The Dynamo’s second half woes reared their ugly heads once again.

Miguel Ibarra nearly won it for the Loons in regulation as he weaved through Dynamo defenders and fired a shot wide from the top of the box. In the end, it was 20-year-old Mason Toye who played the hero, scoring the winner from 5 yards out in the 90th minute and rallying the Loons back from 2 goals down at halftime. Ethan Finlay got to the end line, beating rookie Sam Junqua, and found the substitute Toye for a tap-in, a carbon copy of the first Minnesota goal.

To say this result is a disappointment would be a massive understatement. The Dynamo, as defending champions and playing at home, losing a 2-0 lead at halftime is a huge let down for the club. Houston’s reign as Open Cup Champions is officially over. The Dynamo return to MLS play Saturday, June 22 in Portland against the Timbers.

Goals:

9’ HOU: Ronaldo Pena

37’ HOU: Tomas Martinez (assisted by Marlon Hairston)

66’ MIN: Darwin Quintero (assisted by Angelo Rodriguez)

82’ MIN: Darwin Quintero (assisted by Miguel Ibarra)

89’ MIN: Mason Toye (assisted by Ethan Finlay)

Discipline:

20’ MIN: Michael Boxall

40’ HOU: Alejandro Fuenmayor

90’ + 4’: Lawrence Olum

Lineups:

Houston Dynamo (4-3-3): Michael Nelson; Chris Duvall, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Kevin Garcia, Sam Junqua; Juan David Cabezas, Boniek Garcia (46’ Matias Vera), Tomas Martinez; Tommy McNamara, Ronaldo Peña (89’ Carlos Small), Marlon Hairston (71’ Michael Salazar)

Minnesota United (4-3-3): Vito Mannone; Chase Gasper, Michael Boxall, Ike Opara, Eric Miller (46’ Miguel Ibarra); Hassani Dotson, Lawrence Olum, Jan Gregus; Darwin Quintero, Angelo Rodriguez (74’ Mason Toye), Ethan Finlay