The Houston Dynamo did what was necessary and not much more as they defeated Miami FC 1-0 in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night.
“Mission accomplished. We are in the quarterfinals,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We were hoping for a more dominant performance, but they sat back and made it hard, and the wet field made it difficult to play over the top, but I am happy.”
“Credit to our guys,” said defender Eddie Robinson. “These are hard games to play. You have teams that, for the most part, you’ve never seen before. [And we had] a lot of guys that haven’t played a lot of first-team minutes this year.”
The only negative on the night would be the knee injury suffered by forward Luis Angel Landin in the 39th minute. Landín, who may have twisted his knee, was replaced by Mike Chabala in the first half.
“Tomorrow, they are going to run some tests so we will see what happens, but I hope it’s nothing serious,” said Landín. “I felt a twist, that’s why I didn’t want to continue. I hope and I expect that it’s nothing serious.”
With Landín playing out of position at attacking midfield in the first half, the team was not very fluid in offense. Lovel Palmer’s insertion into the attacking midfield spot after halftime provided a spark, and the Dynamo's ball movement improved dramatically. It was no surprise to see him score the eventual game-winner in the 81st minute.
“[I] would like to see more goals, but [I'm] happy with the win,” said Kinnear. “I don't know if we thought in the first half it was going to be too easy or we were not hungry enough, but I thought we were much better in the second half.”
Defensively, the Dynamo played well for both halves despite playing a seldom-used three-man backline. Craig Waibel, Eddie Robinson, and Ryan Cochrane or Mike Chabala, who each played a half, did a good job limiting the Miami FC attack. While Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall made seven saves on the night, none of the saves were too threatening.
“We couldn’t find much of [an offensive] rhythm throughout the game, but the three defenders locked it down and made it pretty easy for me,” said Hall. “All my saves were off pace shots that they didn’t have a lot of time on, so I have to hand it to [the defenders], as I didn’t see anything that was too crazy.”
While it was not the most beautiful of games, Houston advances to play Chivas USA, which defeated the Austin Aztex 1-0. It will be the third match of the season between the two teams, with the fourth coming July 18 in SuperLiga. For a team that has been struggling in MLS play as of late, tonight’s victory can be a positive step in the right direction.
“This was always going to be tough, as [Miami] wants to prove that they can play here,” Palmer said. “We have to gain confidence from these games -- since we are not winning games in the MLS -- to go into games like Thursday’s (against Toronto FC) and be confident and know that we can come out victorious.”