Manotas shoulders responsibility in leading Dynamo to US Open Cup title

HOUSTON -- Winning the 2018 U.S. Open Cup tournament was a goal the Houston Dynamo set for themselves entering the season, and on Wednesday night, in front of their roaring fan base, the Orange did just that. 

A brace from Mauro Manotas steered the Dynamo to a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in the Open Cup final at BBVA Compass Stadium.

“It’s been a goal of our since the beginning of the season,” Dynamo vice president and general manager Matt Jordan said after the game. “We set out and placed a big importance on the Open Cup this year and it’s so rewarding that all of our hard work paid off.”

The trophy is the first for Houston since lifting the MLS Cup in 2007. It ends the 3rd-longest active trophy drought of any active MLS team. 

“This is for the sacrifice, the pain, and the difficulties that our players are going through. It’s a reward for them,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. 

“It’s a reward and something that they needed because the team, since a year and a half that we’ve been together — most of the team, staff, and coaches — we’ve been able to work for something important.”

Last season, the first under Cabrera, the Dynamo made the Western Conference Championship, and while they fell short of MLS Cup, they made sure the U.S. Open Cup this year had a different result. 

Houston nabbed the USOC championship behind two first-half Manotas goals. The brace gives the Colombian six goals in the competition, earning him the Golden Boot for the tournament. 

It also gives Manotas 20 goals for the Dynamo across all competitions this year. For Manotas, lifting the cup means a little bit extra. When he joined the Dynamo in 2015, Houston used the Open Cup as a means to get him minutes, and he responded with a goal in that competition. He followed that up with three goals in 2016. 

Entering the 2018 season, Manotas was entrenched as Houston’s No. 9 striker after the team sold Erick "Cubo" Torres in the offseason. And it’s safe to say the 23-year-old has more than carried on the scoring torch. 

DaMarcus Beasley, who now has three U.S. Open Cup championships on his resume, said that he’s proud of the growth Manotas has shown over the past four years. 

“I told him at the beginning of the season that I’m going to personally put more responsibility on him,” Beasley said. 

“We had a conversation and I told him personally, ‘I’m putting more responsibility on you. You now are our No. 9. Hands down. So you need to produce … and be more responsible on and off the field’ and he’s done that.”

While Manotas showed up in the biggest game of the year, he admitted his nerves got the better of him as he awaited kickoff.

“I was so anxious at home that everything I ate went straight down the toilet,” Manotas said. “But it wasn’t sickness, it was just nerves and anxiousness to play and to win it. As a forward, they are always looking at you, especially in finals, and thank God I delivered.”