The Houston Dynamo U-17s fell to the U-17 side of Eredivisie club FC Groningen 3-1 this afternoon in their final friendly before the Eurovoetbal tournament begins on Saturday. Lorenzo Salazar scored the lone goal for Houston, making it three goals in three games for the young forward.
From the opening whistle, it was clear the Dynamo were facing their stiffest competition of the week. Groningen, the 2010 winner of Eurovoetbal, brought a combination of size and skill to the pitch that the previous two opponents had not possessed. Houston seemed unfazed, though, and continued to push forward with the size advantage that Salazar holds over most defenders.
In the 21st minute, left back Alex Ochoa fed Salazar down the left wing, and the tall striker did the rest. With a series of twists and turns, Salazar fought his way into the corner of the penalty box, fought through the defender who attempted to pull him down, and slotted the ball past the goalkeeper from a near impossible angle.
Groningen responded 10 minutes later, when a cross from the left flank dropped over the head of Ochoa and fell to an open striker. The striker took one touch and fired a shot past goalkeeper Juan Navarrete. The goal was Houston's first allowed in three games.
In the second half, the Dynamo took advantage of the unlimited substitute rule and allowed re-entry to test players out in different positions. For the first 20 minutes of the half, Houston held strong and looked like the more dominant team. In the 49th minute, Alan Arellano played a ball over the top of the defense to Salazar, but with the goalkeeper coming off his line, Salazar attempted to chip the ball into the net and put it just over the crossbar.
Groningen finally broke through in the 59th minute off a corner kick. Although Houston won the initial header, right back Christian Gonzalez was unable to clear the ball from the six-yard box. The ball rolled to an open Groningen player, who took a shot on net. Although the initial attempt hit the post, just outisde of the reach of goalkeeper Adam Masa, Groningen was there to finish the play and take a 2-1 lead.
The home club extended its lead in the 71st minute after a questionable offside call left a Groningan forward alone behind the defense. He then crossed the ball to the opposite side of the box where another Dutch player was there to finish past Masa.
Although the result was not in the Dynamo's favor, head coach James Clarkson was optimistic about the match and where the team stands at this point in the trip.
"I thought the team played well today," Clarkson said. "Groningen was a step above the previous two teams we played, and our boys handled it well. This team is also in our group in the tournament, so it was good for the squad to see the type of competition we will be up against."
After three games in four days, the Dynamo players will have the chance to be tourists tomorrow before they resume training on Friday. Thursday's trip to Amsterdam will offer the players a chance to take a canal cruise and see the various sites the city has to offer.
Houston Dynamo 1, FC Groningen 3
June 08, 2011 -- Groningen, the Netherlands
HOU -- Lorenzo Salazar 21
FCG -- 31
FCG -- 59
FCG -- 71
Houston Dynamo -- Juan Navarrete (Adam Masa 41), Luis Mendoza, Bradley Bourgeois (Christian Diaz 60), Leo Ayala (Christian Gonzalez 41), Alex Ochoa (Leo Ayala 68), Isaiah Noreiga (Raffi Gregorian 80), Miguel Zapata (Gabriel Moreno 61), Bryan Celis (Raymundo Marquez 41), Raffi Gregorian (Christian Manisck 51), Alan Arellano (Bryan Celis 67), Lorenzo Salazar (Bryan Salazar 55).
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial