The Houston Dynamo U23 team traveled to San Antonio late last week to take on San Antonio SC in a Friday night match, taking down their in-state opponents by a final score of 2-0.
Despite dominating possession through the early portion of the game, the match stayed level through the first half. The score remained that way until defender Bryce Barnum unleashed what may end up being the goal of the season for the Dynamo, as the left back lofted a perfectly arched ball over the outstretched arms of the San Antonio goalkeeper.
This opening goal from Barnum seemingly opened up the scoring flood gates for the Dynamo, as they would go on to score the game’s second goal just a few minutes later. Houston scored again after a D’Lo Hernandez shot was defended and fell to Diego Gonzalez, who shot the ball past the keeper.
While the goals were certainly the story of the game, Houston played well in numerous facets of the game, including the goalkeepers splitting the game and producing a clean sheet for the Dynamo.
Opening goal breaks things open for Houston
After controlling possession for the majority of the game, the breakthrough goal for the Dynamo came courtesy of a heroic effort from defender Bryce Barnum. Despite not being considered a goal-scoring threat, Barnum was able to perfectly placed a shot from long range to give the Dynamo the lead. For head coach Kenny Bundy, the goal came as a relief as much as anything else after a tense early portion of the game.
“My thoughts going into that goal was ‘are we going to be able to finish one of these chances?’ Because I think they defended really well and with a lot of numbers inside the box. We missed some chances that I thought really would have put the game away,” Bundy said after the match. “To score the goal that way, where Bryce cuts inside and puts it in the top corner, you love those goals and I’m really proud of Bryce, but you could just see what it meant to the team.”
According to coach Bundy, that goal opened up so much for the Dynamo that he thought the team had a chance to score more goals than it ended up with.
“We fought really hard to get that first goal and then once we got it there was always the possibility that we were going to score three or four. We only left with two, but it put a lot of relief on the team.”
Goalkeepers combine for clean sheet
The two goalkeepers at the top of the U-23 roster each got to see a full half of play, with Logan Erb in net for the first half before being subbed off for Xavier Valdes in the second. For coach Bundy, this decision was a way of getting two “fantastic” goalies time on the pitch.
While neither was required to deal with too much pressure from the San Antonio attack, as the Dynamo defense kept their opponents mostly in check, each did exactly what was asked of them in preventing San Antonio from scoring.
Both goalies have been training with the first team for some time, a move that Erb says has helped improve his game.
“It’s made me more decisive in what I want to do. It’s made me think a lot quicker,” Erb said.
Juarez returns home
While nobody on the Dynamo takes any of their games lightly, this game had particular significance for defender Jathan Juarez. The San Antonio native returned to his hometown and went the full 90 in front of a crowd that featured numerous family members and friends.
For Juarez, the opportunity was a special one.
“It means a lot,” Juarez said. “It’s rare that I get to come down and play in my hometown in front of all of my friends and family. It was actually my first time ever, and I’ve been with the Academy for four years, so it was an honor to step on the field in my hometown.”