The Houston Dynamo walked into BBVA Stadium ready to take on Las Aguiles of Club America in a mostly full stadium of Club America fans. The inaugural Leagues Cup tournament placed these two together and though the tournament currently does not have much value, both teams brought intensity.
Even before the game began the excitement for the contest grew. Supporters for the Dynamo and America both had a pseudo battle of the bands, Dynamo fans’ voices attempted to match the level of the overpowering America fans and James Harden walked the halls of his new investment.
The first half saw both teams struggle to find any offensive momentum. The Dynamo back-line especially played well led by the legendary Demarcus Beasley. Beasley had a great stop right outside the box and followed that up by heading the ongoing corner kick away. Beasley wasn’t done having his flashback game.
The defensive highlights would not stop as Joe Willis got into the action himself. After gathering a weak pass back to him, Willis had to endure an oncoming forward attacking the ball. Willis used a nice crossover move to break the forward’s ankles and prove he can dribble with the best of them.
After a scoreless half, both team came back from the halftime with much more intensity. The Dynamo, and specifically Michael Salazar, had numerous opportunities to get the ball in the goal. In the 56th minute, Quioto receives the ball in the corner of the box and forces the America goalkeeper Augustin Marchesin to meet him, leaving the goal free. Quioto crossed the ball into the box, however Salazar tries to bicycle kick it in and whiffs. Immediately after, Salazar had another grand opportunity. He received a ball into the box and had only Marchesin to beat but his shot was saved away.
Club America had their best chance later in the 67th minute as Nicolas Castillo’s free kick right outside of the box was saved away by a flying Joe Willis.
Right after, Club America finally got their goal. A beautiful passing display that included a volley pass, a back kick and a slipped pass into the box led to Benedetti poking a shot pass Willis into goal.
The Dynamo continued to try and get the equalizer. Once again Michael Salazar had a great opportunity to get a goal. Off a free kick from 30 yards out, Quioto blasted a shot that was blocked away and landed right at Salazar’s feet. Salazar’s shot landed wide of the goal however. In reference to his struggles, Salazar said, “I think I can build on this for sure, you take away the positives......we were playing with confidence, we created more chances, I feel like- I put that on me because I’m a forward, I’ve got to score on those chances and end the game.”
Finally in the 85th minute, the legend himself, Beasley led the charge into the box and fired a blast into the back of the goal.
Both teams would gear up for the second ever penalty kicks in Leagues Cup history. PKs did not start out the way the Dynamo hoped for unforunately as Romell Quioto’s kick was blocked away to begin the kicks.
After that, both teams made each of their PKs until the finally kick where America needed a goal to win it all and the ball sailed over. After a couple more makes, Junqua’s shot was off target and over the goal, leading America to have another chance at the win. Giovanni Dos Santos, making his Club America debut, got the opportunity to win it for his new squad and he converted.
Despite the tournament being new, Dynamo players were very amped to play this game and that showed in how they played, head coach Wilmer Cabrera exclaimed, “They were motivated, the motivation that these type of games bring to our players is, of course, bigger and very important...they were all excited, they wanted to play these type of games.” Joe Willis would also speak on how to keep this motivation in MLS games, “I think we need to remember what we did tonight and remember how well we played and hopefully give ourselves confidence going forward that we’re capable of paying well.”
Despite the loss, the Dynamo continued the intense play they brought to Toronto. Both teams wanted to win and showed that the Leagues Cup has the potential to be an important and long lasting tournament going forward. Next year, the Leagues Cup will actually have qualification standards and we’ll see the motivation increase going forward. For the Dynamo, they’ll have to rest up and get ready for a game that’ll feel more like a home game this Saturday against Seattle where they’ll attempt to match the intensity.
67’ CA: Nicolas Bendetti
85’ HOU: Demarcus Beasley
40’ HOU: Michael Salazar (yellow card)
43’ CA: Bruno Valdez (yellow card)
64’ HOU: Alejandro Fuenmayor (yellow card)
76’ CA: Mateus Uribe (yellow card)
88’ CA: Nicolas Bendetti (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-4-2): Joe Willis; DaMarcus Beasley, Kevin Garcia, Alejandro Fuenmayor, Chris Duvall; Memo Rodriguez (HT Romell Quioto), Darwin Cerén, Juan David Cabezas, Marlon Hairston (88’ Sam Junqua); Alberth Elis, Michael Salazar (85’ Eric Bird)
Club America (4-2--3-1): Augustin Marchesin; Jorge Sanchez, Emanuel Aguilera, Bruno Valdez, Paul Aguilar; Fernando Gonzales (66’ Nicolas Bendetti), Mateus Uribe; Roger Martinez, Jeremy Menez (70’ Andres Ibarguen), Francisco Cordova (57’Giovani Dos Santos); Nicolas Castillo