Houston Dynamo 2 saw their inaugural season come to a close after a penalty shootout loss to Tacoma Defiance in the MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference Semifinals.
After the match ended level at 2-2 in regulation and the teams played a pair of scoreless 15-minute extra time periods, it came down to a penalty kick shootout to determine a winner. Tacoma was a perfect five-for-five on their attempts, while Houston converted four of their five at the spot.
Houston drew first blood when forward Beto Avila banged home a rebound in the 41st minute. Following an extended spell of possession, forward Jacob Evans ripped a shot from 30 yards that forced a save from Tacoma goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley. Lapsley was unable to control the shot and Avila was the quickest to react to the rebound, putting the loose ball past Lapsley to give Houston a 1-0 lead. The goal was Avila’s first of the postseason and his sixth for Dynamo 2 this season.
Dynamo 2 made it 2-0 in the 50th minute, this time with Evans finishing off the move. Right back Mujeeb Murana took a short pass from midfielder Marcelo Palomino in his own half and raced down the right flank, beating his man before whipping in an inch-perfect cross to Evans. The forward snapped a header down inside the near post to double the lead. The goal was Evans’ first in the playoffs and his second overall this year.
Tacoma were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute when midfielder Travian Souza dribbled through the Houston back line before drawing a foul inside the penalty area. Marlon Vargas put away his penalty kick a minute later to make it 2-1 late on.
The hosts were given a second penalty in the second minute of stoppage time when Valentin Sabella drew a foul near the top of the penalty area. Vargas stepped to the spot once again, but his Panenka effort caught the crossbar and caromed up and over for a goal kick.
Tacoma leveled the match in the 94th minute when a centering pass came off of Houston midfielder Paulo Lima and into the back of the net.
Despite the late turn of events, Dynamo Dos continued to press and fight throughout extra time. Palomino had the first clear chance in added time, but his curling effort from the top of the penalty area just missed wide of the target in the 94th minute.
Midfielder Diego Rosas, who came on as a late substitute in regulation, had a look at goal in the 108th minute. He ran onto a pass along the right flank, beat his man and ripped a shot that whistled just over the bar.
Goalkeeper Michael Nelson came up with a pair of saves in extra time, first in the 96th and again in the 112th to keep the match level. Nelson made a trio of big interventions in the dying minutes of regulation as well, and was credited with five saves on the night and had several other crucial interventions.
Edwards got in behind the Tacoma back line off of a brilliant through ball, but Tacoma center back Achille Robin slid to poke the ball away. Houston’s shouts for a penalty of their own went unheeded as the referee waved play on. Edwards sent another shot toward goal in the 115th after a free kick fell to him, but he wasn’t able to put his spinning effort on target.
Edwards was inches from the winner in the final minute of extra time when he ran onto a long ball over the top from defender Paolo Rios and fired a low shot toward the near post. Lapsley was fortunate to get a foot on it, sending it out for a corner kick. The ensuing corner failed to produce a goal, sending the match to penalties.
Houston Dynamo 2 finishes its inaugural campaign with a record of 14-6-5 across all competitions, including a perfect 10-0-1 mark at AVEVA Stadium. Dynamo Dos ended the regular season tied for first in the MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference and had the league’s stingiest defense in the regular season, conceding just 22 goals in 24 games.
Nine players saw time with both Houston Dynamo 2 and the Houston Dynamo FC first team during the course of the season, with three Dynamo 2 players making the matchday roster for the first team this year.