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Houston Dynamo 2 return home to AVEVA Stadium this week to face off against MNUFC2 on Sunday, July 24 at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

Houston is coming off a tightly contested Texas Derby, as the team went into Arlington and came out with two points following a victory in a shootout from the penalty spot. The shootout came after a back-and-forth contest in which the two in-state rivals eventually found themselves tied 3-3 at the end of 90 minutes. 

The scoring was kicked off by the newest member of Dynamo 2, as midfielder Isaiah LeFlore finished off a through ball from defender Jathan Juarez from a tight angle in just the fifth minute. The goal was the earliest one for Houston thus far into the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. 

Houston doubled its lead after midfielder Marcelo Palomino drew a penalty in the 23rd minute. A minute later, the Houston native took the penalty kick himself and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net past the diving keeper to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

North Texas got on the board in the 36th minute as Blaine Ferri swung a corner kick into the box and José Mulato rose up to head the ball into the net to cut the Dynamo 2 lead to one goal.  

 LeFlore was not finished with just one goal. Just after returning from the locker room after halftime, forward Kyle Edwards found enough space up the right flank to unleash a cross inside the box that found LeFlore in the 47th minute, who put away his third goal in his first two games for Dynamo 2 to give Houston a 3-1 lead.  

The home team found the equalizer in the 84th minute as Colling Smith threaded a cross into Mulato, who put a first-touch shot into the net to tie the score 3-3.  

In the shootout, both teams perfectly mirrored each other, making each of their first three shots from the spot before missing the fourth time up and converting their fifth shots. In the sixth round of the shootout, goalkeeper Xavier Valdez extended to his right to block the shot of North Texas’ Paul Amedume. Moments later, it was Dynamo 2 captain and defender Talen Maples who converted the final shot to give Houston two points and sole possession of third place in the Western Conference standings.  

Following this weekend’s matchup with MNUFC2, Dynamo 2 travels north of the border to take on Whitecaps FC 2 next Friday, July 29 at 9:00 p.m. CDT. 

Here are three key points ahead of Sunday's match:   

  1. DRAWING FOULS IN BUNCHES: Dynamo 2 has demonstrated a knack for drawing fouls all season long, and that continued in Friday’s Texas Derby. Houston was fouled by their in-state rivals 14 times, including four apiece by Collin Smith and Bernard Kamungo. This was the third straight game in which the team was fouled 14 times or more. This, however, is not a recent trend, as the team has found success drawing fouls all season long. As a result, Houston sits in third place in the league in that category with 237 fouls suffered. They sit only two behind Whitecaps FC 2, with 239, and six behind NYCFCII, with 243. 
  2. LONG BALL SUCCESS: While this team has a knack for deliberately working its way out of the back and up the pitch, Dynamo 2’s versatility means that it can be very direct with its passing, particularly when coming out from the defense. Houston is currently third in the number of long balls it has attempted this season, and the main reason for this is the play of Dynamo 2 defender and captain Talen Maples. Maples’ 105 long balls not only lead the team by over 50, but lead the entire league. If Talen gets the ball, chances are that ball will be sent flying down the pitch sooner or later. 
  3. SHOOTOUT SUPER STARS: One of the most intriguing components of MLS NEXT Pro is the shootout that comes if two teams are tied at the end of regulation. In this scenario, the team that wins the shootout is awarded two points while the losing team is awarded just one. Dynamo 2 has participated in three such shootouts this season, including most recently on Friday. In these shootouts, the Dynamo have emerged victorious twice. The only loss came against MNUFC2, so look for Houston to try to exact revenge if this same scenario occurs on Sunday.