The Houston Dynamo opened the 2018 Mobile Mini Sun Cup with a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers this afternoon.
The Dynamo opened the scoring early in the 12th minute thanks to offseason acquisition Arturo Álvarez. Midfielder Tomás Martínez played a quick pass to Álvarez on the right side of the field and the left-footed winger cut into the box onto his shooting foot, slipped past two defenders and fired the ball into the net.
The Timbers tied the match in the 34th minute when midfielder Sebastián Blanco sent a low cross from the left side of the box to the far post, finding midfielder Dairon Asprilla, who tapped the ball into the net.
Dynamo rookie goalkeeper Michael Nelson came up bit with three saves in the first half, including a pair of spectacular stops on reigning league MVP Diego Valeri. In 23rd minute, Valeri got into a one-on-one situation with Nelson and attempted to slip the ball into the opposite corner of the net, but the rookie goalkeeper got his right boot onto the shot to steer it clear of danger. Ten minutes later, Asprilla took a shot that Nelson was able to smother. In the 43rd minute, Valeri fired a shot from 18-yards out that was headed for the net before Nelson dove to push it away with an outstretched right hand.
The Dynamo made wholesale changes at halftime, swapping all 11 players, and nearly went ahead thanks to forward Alberth Elis. The Honduran international raced past two Timbers defenders along the touchline before pulling a pass back to the top of the 18-yard box for defender Kevin Garcia, but Garcia’s shot was saved by Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
Elis hit the outside of the net late in the second half off of a cross from his countryman, midfielder Boniek García, but he wasn’t able to get his foot all the way around the ball to put it on frame.
The Timbers threatened late on when midfielder Jack Barmby got loose for a left-footed shot from the top of the area, but Houston goalkeeper Chris Seitz easily stopped the shot to preserve the draw.
Houston Dynamo 1-1 Portland Timbers
2018 Mobile Mini Sun Cup
February 14, 2018 – Tucson, Arizona
HOU: Arturo Álvarez 2 (Tomás Martínez 1) 12
POR: Dairon Asprilla 1 (Sebastián Blanco 2) 34
Houston Dynamo: Michael Nelson (Chris Seitz 46); George Malki (Kevin Garcia 46), Alejandro Fuenmayor (Adolfo Machado 46), Leonardo (Philippe Senderos 46), Dylan Remick (DaMarcus Beasley 46); Charlie Ward (Eric Alexander 46), Darwin Cerén (Juan David Cabezas 46); Arturo Alvarez (Alberth Elis 46), Tomás Martínez (Boniek García 46), Memo Rodriguez (Andrew Wenger 46); Mac Steeves (Mauro Manotas 46)
Portland Timbers: Jake Gleeson; Alvas Powell (Zarek Valentin 66), Larrys Mabiala (Julio Cascante 66), Liam Ridgwell (Bill Tuiloma 66), Vytas Andriuškevičus; Lawrence Olum (Marco Farfan 66), David Guzmán (Cristhian Paredes 66); Dairon Asprilla (Jack Barmby 66), Diego Valeri (Victor Arboleda 66), Sebastián Blanco (Andy Polo 57); Fanendo Adi (Jeremy Ebobisse 66)
POR: David Guzmán (caution; foul) 26
POR: Sebastián Blanco (caution; foul) 30
HOU: Juan David Cabezas (caution; foul) 51
POR: Vytas Andriuškevičus (ejection; violent conduct) 65
HOU: Alberth Elis (caution; foul) 85