The Houston Dynamo escaped their U.S. Open Cup clash against Austin Bold FC with a win on Tuesday evening, but despite his team advancing, head coach Wilmer Cabrera was in no mood for pleasantries after the 3-2 victory.
Speaking at his postgame press conference, Cabrera was incensed at his team's second-half performance, which saw them very nearly cough up a three-goal halftime lead to their USL Championship opponents.
“It was two different teams,” Cabrera said of the difference between his team's first- and second-half showings. “One very good team – Houston Dynamo – and the second team was really poor. I’m disappointed and also I offer my apologies to the fans that made the effort to come over here to watch that second half from our team. That’s not acceptable.”
The Dynamo did cruise in the first half, playing some stylish soccer along the way. They sliced through the visiting defense to the tune of three goals, capped by a beauty set up by a Ronaldo Pena backheel and finished off by Matias Vera.
The ease of scoring in the first half may have led to some complacency early in the second, though. The Bold pulled one back just three minutes after the restart and were within one by the hour mark. The Dynamo were able to stop the bleeding there, but the near-collapse left a sour taste in Cabrera's mouth.
“In the second half, we stopped playing.” We didn’t show personality, we didn’t show character, we didn’t show anything. So, anyway, I hope this is a very good call for attention, but all the guys in the second half, they were terrible. All of them.”
To further drive home his point, Cabrera drew on the example set earlier in the day by the US women's national team. The USWNT, like the Dynamo, led by three at halftime, before going on to put 10 more goals past a vastly overmatched Thailand side in the second half of their World Cup opener, which generated plenty of postgame debate about running up the score and the team's celebrations en route to a World Cup-record win. And while Austin Bold FC were not nearly the underdogs Thailand were against the US, Cabrera made it clear that the lesson for his team remained the same.
“It was something that today was remarkable about the women’s national team, the professionalism that they showed — understanding that Thailand wasn’t good, but that’s not their fault,” said the former Colombian international. “They were professional, focused and disciplined enough to just go and show them. And that’s what you expect from your players. But we just played 45 [minutes] and then we stopped playing and that was embarrassing.
“I feel really bad, embarrassed about our performance in the second half, because if we’re going to play like that against any MLS team, we’re going to be looking really bad.”