Houston Dynamo 2 clinched a spot in the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs with a 1-0 victory over St. Louis CITY 2 at a rainy AVEVA Stadium tonight. Dynamo 2 earned their 10th clean sheet of the season and remained unbeaten at AVEVA with a 9-0-1 record on the year.
With the victory Dynamo 2 finished the evening tied with Tacoma Defiance for second in the Western Conference table with 46 points.
Facing a St. Louis with five starters who are slated to be a part of the club’s first team when it debuts next year, Dynamo Dos defended solidly, intercepting 27 passes, winning 12 of 17 tackles and posting their third clean sheet in the last four outings.
Dynamo 2 broke through first in the 58th minute when defender Mujeeb Murana rose above the St. Louis CITY 2 defense to power a header into the back of the net past former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki. Forward Beto Avila lifted the ball up from the left flank after the Dynamo regained possession off of a free kick.
Houston goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg showed off his athleticism in the 18th minute when he leapt high toward the corner of the goal to deny a shot from Akil Watts. At full stretch, Pannenberg got his right hand to the shot and palmed it over the crossbar. Pannenberg finished the night with five saves, including three in the first half, in picking up his second clean sheet of the year.
Houston went up a man in the 69th minute when St. Louis forward Josh Dolling was sent off for a violent tackle on Murana in front of the St. Louis bench.
St. Louis rattled the woodwork in the 75th minute when Wan Kuzain cracked a shot from distance that sailed over Pannenberg before dipping down and catching the crossbar. The rebound ricocheted back into the field of play but the Dynamo were able to cut out the danger.
Defender Jathan Juarez nearly put things on ice after a three-man counterattack late in stoppage time. Forwards Joyner Castillo and Danny Ríos raced ahead of the St. Louis back line before Ríos laid off to Juarez on the left flank. The Academy alum’s right-footed shot from 18 yards curled up and just over the crossbar for a goal kick.
Houston Dynamo 2 now have two matches left in their inaugural campaign. They visit the Mile High City on Sunday, Sept. 11 for their final road contest of the year when they visit Colorado Rapids 2. Dynamo Dos will play their final regular-season home match on Sunday, Sept. 18 against North Texas SC.