HOUSTON – Although Club América defeated the Houston Dynamo 6-5 in a penalty-kick shootout in their Leagues Cup clash at BBVA Stadium on Wednesday, it was the Houston team who showed grit and stunned onlookers with their performance.
The Dynamo stood their ground against the Mexican powerhouse, creating more scoring opportunities than their adversaries – Houston outshot América 12-9 – but were unable to finish. That’s been a recurring issue for La Naranja, as head coach Wilmer Cabrera is well aware.
“Something you can improve even if you’re old is the technique – that you can improve,” said Cabrera. “If you can improve your technique you’re going to have those possibilities and you’re going to be more ready to finish.”
América came in as the favorites and had many fans among the spirited crowd of 20,315 in attendance. That did not deter the Dynamo from having one of their best games of the year, showing aggression up front and solidity in the back, even with several changes from their regular starting lineup.
“I am happy with the performance of the players,” said Cabrera, “because that’s the way you have to play these type of games, with personality, with discipline and respect for the game, which is the most important.”
The result is bittersweet for the Dynamo: positive because a second-choice lineup had a great game against a historically powerful team playing many of their starters, and bitter because Houston could have won the game, but wasted several good chances.
“We had the clearest opportunities for the game,” said Dynamo forward Alberth Elis, who produced three shots but wasn’t able to score. “We did not finish them and we had to go to the penalties and then it is a raffle and it is not known who will win.”
Meanwhile América were criticized for having an “off” game, starting with their manager Miguel “Piojo” Herrera, who said his team didn’t play well.
“The team fell into an excesses of confidence and because they [Dynamo] are a team who was going to run, a team that was going to fight and that was going to challenge for all the balls, I think that is part of what we stopped doing – concentrating on having the ball and not to give it up as much,” said Herrera.
Aguilas goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin denied the Dynamo several goals and blocked Romell Quioto’s penalty in the shootout. Like many others, he did not expect the match to end up in PKs.
“No, not really, but we are happy with the win and we knew that the game would be tough. We are aware that they [Dynamo] have a good style of play,” said Marchesin. “We had opportunities to win the game and put them away, but then they scored and we had to decide a winner in the penalty shootout.”
América advance to the semifinals of the Leagues Cup and will match up against fellow Liga MX giants Tigres UANL, another meeting of last season’s Apertura and Clausura champions. Earlier this month América beat Tigres in the Campeon de Campeones.
The Dynamo must now pivot to a tough game on Saturday, as Seattle Sounders FC visit BBVA Stadium (8 pm ET | TV and streaming info). With Seattle currently in third place and Houston eighth in the MLS Western Conference standings, it’s another key matchup in the race for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.