HOUSTON – With the US national team's recent disappointing performance in the Hex, Houston Dynamo head coach and former USMNT youth coach Wilmer Cabrera relayed a message to his team before Houston's 2-1 victory over Sporting KC. The message was clear.
“In soccer, anything can happen,” Cabrera said. “I told them, ‘we cannot leave things for the last game of the season.’”
Cabrera wanted his team to focus on qualifying for the playoffs now and the players responded. Houston fought hard for a win with a little help from their foes. With the game tied 1-1, SKC defender Erik Palmer-Brown tried to clear a ball in his box, but ended it up putting it in the back of the net.
SKC’s own goal gave the Dynamo the 2-1 lead and the eventual three points. It’s the first time this season Houston pulled out a victory after being down at halftime. It was also the club’s first back-to-back victories since May 12.
With just two more games left in the regular season, was the game a must-win for the Dynamo?
“Yes, it was a must win,” Cabrera said. “But also, it was a test in terms of how deep is our team. How strong are we going to be at home despite [the fact that we] we don’t have five players that are on international duty? It was a great test for all of us.”
Aside from the game being a must-win for playoff contention, Houston wanted to win the game to honor Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres’ father, who passed away last week of leukemia. Dynamo players and staff wore black armbands in honor of Torres’ father and held a moment of silence before the game.
Even during the game, the Dynamo players had Torres on their mind. After scoring the tying goal with a left-footed volley, Tomás Martínez, and the rest of the players ran to the sidelines to embrace Torres.
Martínez, who scored his second goal of the season, noted that it will be important for the team to support Torres during this time and this will bring the team even closer together.
“[Torres is] one of our teammates. He’s one of our friends. To have him in our hearts. To have him in our thoughts is important for us moving forward because he needs our support,” Martínez said. “We’re all here for him because he would do the same for us.”