For the second consecutive year, the Houston Dynamo came to the Lowcountry of South Carolina and started primarily a team of reserves, and for the second consecutive year it cost them an early exit from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
After Steve Wondolowski scored a last-gasp equalizer for Houston following a Marco Reda goal that had given the Charleston Battery a first-half lead, the nine-man USL First Division side hung on to a penalty shootout, which they won 4-3 to take the third round Open Cup match.
Charleston will take on the winner of the Dallas FC-Miami match next Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
Charleston dominated the possession and the play for most of the first half.
The Battery got the first quality scoring chance in the 22nd minute when defender John Wilson made a strong run down the field. Lazo Alavanja got the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and flicked it over to Wilson, who came storming down the middle of the field into the area.
Wilson's shot, however, bounced off the side of the net. Three minutes later Alavanja had another excellent scoring chance. Chris Williams served a ball into the box that Randi Patterson slid over to Alavanja, pivoted and blasted a shot on goal that Houston 'keeper Tony Caig stopped.
Charleston finally grabbed a 1-0 lead on Reda's header in the 31st minute off a set piece. After Houston defender Erik Ustruck grabbed the shirt of Charleston midfielder Stephen Armstrong, the Battery were awarded a free kick from about 30 yards out.
Charleston midfielder Osvaldo Alonso curled a ball into the box that midfielder Ian Fuller headed to Reda in the six-yard box. Reda easily beat Caig for the score. The Dynamo came out in the second half much stronger, dominating the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Houston got their best chance to score in the 54th minute after a scramble inside the penalty area. The ball bounced around the box for several seconds with Houston striker Franco Caraccio ending up with possession. With Charleston 'keeper Dusty Hudock out of the net, Caraccio tried to chip the ball into the open goal, but Armstrong was there on the line to clear the ball.
The Battery had another glorious chance to score in the 68th minute off another set piece. Again it was Alonso who curled a ball into the six-yard box and again it was Reda who got on the other end of the kick. Reda's half-volley, however, hit the top of the crossbar to end the threat. The Battery were forced to play the final 16 minutes of regulation a man down after midfielder Chris Corcoran was given a red card for a hard tackle on Chris Wondolowski.
Houston nearly tied the game in the 76th minute off a near own goal by the Battery. Houston defender Geoff Cameron made a strong run into the Battery's penalty area. Caraccio then took a shot that bounced off the back heel of Charleston defender John Wilson. Hudock was forced to make a diving save to end the threat.
The Dynamo tied the game just before the end of regulation time on Steve Wondolowski's header in the 89th minute. Substitute Johnny Alcaraz served the ball into the six-yard box to Caraccio, who headed the ball to Steve Wondolowski. Wondolowski's header just beat Hudock for the score.
Reda was issued a red card in the 102nd minute, leaving the Battery with just nine players for the final 18 minutes of overtime.
Andrew Miller is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Houston Dynamo vs. Charleston Battery
July 1, 2008 -- Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, South Carolina
CHS -- Marco Reda (Ian Fuller) 31
HOU -- Steve Wondolowski (Franco Caraccio) 89
HOU -- Stuart Holden (Goal)
CHS -- Osvaldo Alonso (Goal)
HOU -- Chris Wondolowski (Goal)
CHS -- Stephen Armstrong (Goal)
HOU -- Geoff Cameron (High)
CHS -- Darren Spicer (Goal)
HOU -- John Michael Hayden (Goal)
CHS -- Tim Velton (Goal)
HOU -- Franco Caraccio (Saved)
Houston Dynamo -- Tony Caig, Erik Ustruck (Johnny Alcaraz 81), Geoff Cameron, Steve Wondolowski, Mike Chabala, Chris Wondolowski, Nick Hatzke (Stuart Holden 98), John Michael Hayden, Corey Ashe, Kyle Brown, Franco Caraccio.
Substitutes not used: Pat Onstad, Wade Barrett, Richard Mulrooney, Craig Waibel, Brad Davis.
Charleston Battery -- Dusty Hudock, Kevin Nylen, Marco Reda, Nelson Akwari, John Wilson, Chris Williams, Osvaldo Alonso, Stephen Armstrong, Ian Fuller (Chris Corcoran 63), Laza Alavanja (Aaron King 59, Tim Velton 106), Randi Patterson (Darren Spicer 77).
Substitutes not used: Keith Wiggans, Mike Richardson, Lester Moré.
CHS -- Stephen Armstrong (caution; persistent infringement) 17
HOU -- Erik Ustruck (caution; professional foul) 30
HOU -- Chris Wondolowski (caution; reckless tackle) 33
HOU -- Stephen Wondolowski (caution; unsportsmanlike conduct) 39
CHS -- Chris Corcoran (ejection; flagrant foul) 74
CHS -- Marco Reda (caution; dissent) 78
HOU -- Franco Caraccio (caution; professional foul) 95
CHS -- Marco Reda (ejection; second yellow card) 103
CHS -- Darren Spicer (caution; violent conduct) 109
HOU -- Stuart Holden (caution; reckless tackle) 111
Referee: Joe Caroccio
Referee's Assistants: Roni Canales; Jeff Muschik
4th official: Jeff Muschik
Time Of Game: 2:43
Weather: Cloudy-and-82 degrees