After a wild first 90 minutes in which the Houston Dynamo lost a two-goal lead in the final 15 minutes of regulation (plus 7 minutes of stoppage time), followed by 30 minutes of scoreless extra time, the hosts outlasted LAFC, 3(7)-3(6) in penalties on Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium, advancing to to their first Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
The first half got off to a quick start, with Diego Rossi and Andrew Wenger trading goals in the first 12 minutes. The game's complexion changed in the 25th minute, when Alberth Elis fed Mauro Manotas for the go-ahead goal.
Houston, after some near-misses on dangerous counter-attacks, slotted an apparent insurance goal in the 75th minute courtesy of freshly-activated sub Memo Rodriguez. But Rossi temporarily spoiled Houston's party with a catch-up goal in the 78th minute and an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
After 30 minutes of extra time provided chances but no goals, the teams settled the match at the spot. Both Boniek Garcia and Laurent Ciman missed their chances to put away the penalty session in the first five tries, so the PK session extended to the 8th round, where Latif Blessing was unable to match Philippe Senderos.
- 6' – LAFC – Diego Rossi
- 12' – HOU – Andrew Wenger
- 25' – HOU – Mauro Manotas
- 75' – HOU – Memo Rodriguez
- 78' – LAFC – Diego Rossi
- 90' + 5' – LAFC – Diego Rossi
- THE BIG PICTURE: Houston will host its first ever U.S. Open Cup final. Given that three key players — Elis, Alejandro Fuenmayor, and Darwin Ceren — are out for Saturday's match against Columbus Crew SC for red cards accrued in last weekend's loss to Sporting Kansas City, the win was good news to counter a particularly tough juncture in the Dynamo's 2018 MLS grind. For LAFC? Getting this far in their inaugural Cup competition is a positive; it's hard to think of this as a setback despite the sting of losing in PKs.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Rossi's equalizer changed the entire tenor of the match, and gave neutrals a reason to follow through extra time and the ensuing penalty kicks.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Though it's an odd consolation to get Man of the Match honors when you lose a heartbreaker, this has to go to Rossi. In scoring a hat trick this deep into the Cup, Rossi made history.
#USOC2018 stats: Diego Rossi of #LAFC is the first player in the Modern Era (1995-present) to score a hat trick after the Quarterfinals. Until tonight there has never been a hat trick in a Semifinal or a Final. pic.twitter.com/AgITYMwwPJ— TheCup.us (@usopencup) August 9, 2018