The Houston Dynamo pulled out a dramatic 2-1 victory over Mexican rival Pachuca Thursday night at Robertson Stadium, starting SuperLiga with a bang thanks to two goals from Joseph Ngwenya and a big night from goalkeeper Tally Hall.
The win puts Houston in first place in Group A, pending the outcome of tonight’s second game between Pachuca and Puebla. All four Group A teams will be at Robertson Stadium on Sunday night for the second round of games. The top two teams advance to the SuperLiga semifinals.
Houston’s win evened the all-time series with Pachuca at 3-3-1 after the Dynamo lost both games against Pachuca last year. The rivalry is typically described as the most competitive between an American and a Mexican team.
The Dynamo took the lead in the 19th minute, when a long-range shot from Mike Chabala deflected high into the air near the edge of the penalty area, and Joseph Ngwenya rifled a right-footed volley into the right side netting.
Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, making his fourth competitive start of the season, had a huge night for the Dynamo and stopped several one-on-one opportunities in the first half, including a save on Franco Arizala in the 25th minute. Hall finished with four saves to earn his fifth win for Houston in the last two seasons.
Pachuca tied the game in the 51st minute when Longview, Texas native and U.S. international Jose Francisco Torres played a through ball into the box, and midfielder Damián Manso one-timed it past Hall.
Houston almost responded in the 61st minute, as Danny Cruz rifled a left-footed free kick on target, and Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero dove to his left to make the save. Brian Ching fired in the rebound but was controversially ruled offside; replays showed Ching appeared to be onside.
The Dynamo finally got the breakthrough in the 85th minute, when Corey Ashe bent in a free kick from the left corner, and Joseph Ngwenya pulled off his marker to head the ball in at the near post from the edge of the six-yard box. It was Ngwenya’s third goal of the season and his third career SuperLiga goal. The Dynamo have now scored six of their 10 all-time goals against Pachuca in the last 15 minutes.
The Dynamo improved to 6-1-3 all-time in SuperLiga and 12-3-4 all-time at home in international play, with a 5-3-3 mark at home against Mexican clubs. Houston’s all-time international record stands at 13-9-10. The win snapped a six-game winless streak for Houston in competitive matches against Mexican teams.
Midfielder Brian Mullan made his 27th career appearance in international competition for Houston, tying current assistant coach Wade Barrett for the club record. Midfielder Corey Ashe earned his fifth career assist in international competition, tying three other players for second in club history behind Brian Ching, who has six.
Midfielder Richard Mulrooney made his 100th career appearance for the Dynamo in all competitions and his 90th total start for the club.
Next Game: Sunday, July 18, 7 p.m., Dynamo vs. Chivas USA, Robertson Stadium (SuperLiga Group A)
Next MLS Game: Saturday, July 31, 7:30 p.m., Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls, Robertson Stadium