Thanks to a late, emphatic DaMarcus Beasley goal, the Houston Dynamo were able to get their Leagues Cup opener against Club América to penalty kicks at BBVA Stadium on Wednesday evening, finishing 6-5 in América's favor.
The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first half, with Alberth Elis leading the Dynamo's efforts to score in an uncharacteristic 4-4-2 formation, whereas on the other end, Joe Willis had some heads-up play and the occasional heroics to keep Las Aguilas off the scoreboard.
The second half brought more excitement with it, along with some golden chances for Dynamo goals, particularly for Michael Salazar. In one bizarre sequence, halftime sub Romell Quioto found himself one-on-one in the shadow of the corner flag with América 'keeper Agustín Marchesín, who came way off his line to challenge Quioto, but the Honduran's ball in didn't allow his teammates to capitalize.
América had their own chances in the build-up to the opening goal, with Roger Martinez drawing a foul ruled to be just outside the box, and then Nicolas Castillo bending the free kick expertly and nearly past Willis. Willis batted the shot against the goal line, keeping it out.
Two Aguilas subs proved instrumental. The first, more of a momentum shifter, was Giovani dos Santos's much-anticipated América in the 57th minute. Then, Nicolas Benedetti came on for Francisco Cordova, and scored on his first touch in the 73rd minute, stepping in front of dos Santos to scoop up a Castillo cross.
But then the timeless Beasley came through with a golazo from the left flank in the 85th minute, providing the equalizer allowing the Dynamo to get to the PK sequence breaking ties after 90 in the Leagues Cup format.
In the shootout, Quioto missed the opening round shot, but Martinez missed the 5th and potentially match-winning kick to send the sequence into sudden death. In the 7th round, late sub Sam Junqua skied his attempt, allowing dos Santos a chance to step up and be the hero — which he most definitely was able to do.
- THE BIG PICTURE: This will be disappointing to the Dynamo, given they had a chance to stun a vocal pro-CA crowd who made their way to BBVA, but it's on to other challenges to stay in the West playoff hunt, starting with this weekend's visit by the Sounders. América extend their Leagues Cup run, keeping an intriguing Gio reunion with the LA Galaxy in a Las Vegas-hosted finals in play.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: After lots of lots of almost for the Dynamo, Beasley stepped up with just minutes left and delivered a highlight-worthy goal. It wasn't enough to deliver the Dynamo into the semis — maybe Beas should've kicked in Junqua's spot? — but it gave the Dynamo some hope and gave the fans the drama of a shootout. (And newly-introduced co-owner James Harden sure enjoyed it.)
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Benedetti scored the opener for the winners shortly after subbing on, and kept his team in the PKs with a crucial 6th-round conversion, enough to allow his teammate to seal the win in the 7th.
- HOU: Saturday, July 27 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+, DAZN in Canada)
- CA: Saturday, July 27 at León (Liga MX, 8 pm ET)