Cristian "Chaco" Maidana had been waiting for this game since the day he was traded to the Houston Dynamo this offseason. On Saturday, the Argentine playmaker showed the Philadelphia Union what they sent away.
Maidana, who played two seasons with the Union and helped lead them to back-to-back U.S. Open Cup Finals, said all that backstory dissipated when he stepped up to take a free kick in stoppage time.
“The first thing that came to mind was where the goalie positioned himself,” said Maidana. “I saw that he was square in the middle of the goal, so I aimed for the far post. It worked out, sometimes it just works out.”
Maidana curled his shot inside of the far post just before the end of second-half stoppage time to give the Dynamo a much deserved 1-0 victory. The goal marked Houston’s first from a direct free kick in second-half stoppage time in the club’s history.
Houston Dynamo interim head coach Wade Barrett earned his first win since taking over from Owen Coyle. And though Maidana was ready to play, thinking he would start as of Friday, Barrett had a different idea come game day – Maidana opened the match on the bench.
Barrett acknowledged that it was difficult to leave Maidana off the starting lineup but added that this team has up to 15 potential starters. Maidana had played 67 minutes in Wednesday’s 3-1 U.S. Open Cup victory over Sporting Kansas City.
“I respect Wade’s decisions,” said Maidana, who exchanged jerseys with the Union’s Fabinho. “But I knew that this game would turn out well for me. I knew that once I came in, I could make an impact.”
That is exactly what Barrett wanted from Maidana, who entered the game in the 69th minute.
“It was difficult for him to start on the side, but he was one of the biggest impact players on the field tonight,” said Barrett.
Under former coach Coyle, Maidana played as a more traditional No. 10, but under Barrett, Maidana said he’s asked to do different things aside from creating opportunities. "[I'm supposed to] bring a lot of energy – and today, that’s what I brought.”