The Houston Dynamo may be all but out of the Major League Soccer playoff picture, but that doesn’t mean the team won’t have something to celebrate this season. Houston scored a convincing 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final to win the tournament for the first time in the club’s history.
The Dynamo were led by Mauro Manotas, who scored twice in the first 25 minutes off of assists from Alberth Elis. Manotas was the top scorer overall in the Open Cup, scoring six goals for Houston throughout the tournament.
Cup Win Could Bring Winning Mentality to Houston
The win gave Houston its first trophy since the team won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007. This is the first time since 2001 that a first-time winner has won the Open Cup.
“We can say we are champions and that changes our life, it changes our mentality,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera told the Houston Chronicle after the match. “It gives us the possibility to say that we know how to win. And it’s important for you as a professional in any sport to say that you know how to win and that you have won something.”
The Dynamo have not been able to call themselves winners very often this season. Houston currently sits 12 points outside of the playoff picture, with a record of 8-13-8. But regardless of how far down the table the team finishes, the Open Cup title will make this year a success.
The win also guarantees Houston a position in the CONCACAF Champions League, where the team will play other league and cup champions from other competitions throughout North and Central America.
“Any time you play an international tournament, it’s going to be important but challenging and more difficult,” Cabrera told the Chronicle. “If we’ve been having some difficulties with the MLS season and with injuries, then we need to prepare ourselves much better and we need to be sure that we strengthen the roster for a competition like that.”
Union Come Up Short in Open Cup for Third Time
Despite the lopsided final score, the game nearly went in a very different direction. In the fourth minute, Philadelphia’s Fabrice-Jean Picault had a goal disallowed for being offside, denying the Union a 1-0 lead.
Only 30 seconds later, Manotas scored the first of his two goals on a header past goalkeeper Andre Blake. The 23-year-old Colombian has 14 goals in MLS play this season, and his 20 goals combined in all competitions is a single-season record for the Dynamo.
Houston tallied a third score in the 65th minute when Philadelphia defender Auston Trusty scored an own goal. Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis made five saves to record a shutout.
This was the third time that the Union has lost in the final of the Open Cup, having previously been the runner-up in the competition in 2014 and 2015. Philadelphia is still looking for its first trophy since joining MLS in 2010.
Unlike Houston, Philadelphia is likely to make the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Union currently sit in fifth place in Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of DC United, which would currently be the first team out of the playoff picture. At online bookmaker Bovada, the Union are a 16/1 pick to win the MLS Cup, while Houston — which has technically not been eliminated yet — can be backed at 4500/1.