Houston Dynamo News

Houston Dynamo FC reach first final under Ted Segal, Pat Onstad and Ben Olsen


Houston Dynamo FC are set to face Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at DRV PNK Stadium in the Club’s first final under owner Ted Segal, general manager Pat Onstad and head coach Ben Olsen. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT.

Houston advanced to the final after defeating Real Salt Lake 3-1 in extra time at Shell Energy Stadium on Aug. 23. The Dynamo opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time when captain Héctor Herrera found the back of the net from inside the six-yard box. After the visitors equalized in the 64th minute, Houston took the lead back in extra time in the 105th minute when midfielder Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla slotted the ball across goal into the bottom left corner of the net from the top of the penalty box. Midfielder Luis Caicedo scored Houston’s third goal of the night in the 125th minute after winning possession at the top of the penalty box and playing a one-two with forward Amine Bassi, who assisted on all three goals.

Advancing to the U.S. Open Cup final earned Houston a place in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, the first time the team will compete in a regional Concacaf tournament since 2019. Along with the current Open Cup run, Houston is having a resurgent season, currently sitting fourth in the Western Conference standings, the team’s highest spot in the table through at least 25 games since 2017. The Dynamo also made a run to the Leagues Cup Round of 16 after defeating the top-seeded team from Liga MX, C.F. Pachuca, on penalties.

The Dynamo captured the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, the club’s first title in the tournament, with a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on September 26, 2018, at BBVA Compass Stadium (now Shell Energy Stadium). The Open Cup title was the third domestic championship in Dynamo history and first since the club’s back-to-back MLS Cup titles in 2006 and 2007.

Inter Miami CF reached the final after defeating FC Cincinnati 5-4 on penalties on the road on Aug. 23. The two teams played to a 3-3 draw in regulation, as Leonardo Campana scored a stoppage-time equalizer for Miami to send the match to extra time. Campana also scored Miami’s first goal of the match in the 68thminute, followed by Josef Martinez finding the back of the net in the 93rd minute.

Miami, who currently sit 14th in the Eastern Conference, has made big-name signings during the most recent transfer window, headlined by global superstar Lionel Messi, along with his former FC Barcelona teammates Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets. Miami won a trophy earlier this year, hoisting the 2023 Leagues Cup Trophy after defeating Nashville SC 10-9 on penalties last month.

Houston and Inter Miami have faced off three times since Miami’s inaugural season in 2020. The Dynamo have won two of those matchups, while Inter have one victory. In the most recent matchup in April, Houston defeated Miami 1-0 at Shell Energy Stadium, as defender Daniel Steres slotted home a shot at the far post for his first goal of the season. With the result, the Dynamo became the first team in MLS history to produce four consecutive clean sheet victories at home to open the year.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is a single-elimination tournament to determine the champion of American soccer. Teams from every level of soccer are included, from local amateur and semi-pro sides up to Major League Soccer. Founded in 1914, the Open Cup is the oldest national soccer competition in the United States and the second-oldest team championship in American sports. The 2023 tournament is the 108th edition of the competition.

Here are three key points ahead of Wednesday’s match:

  1. ELIMINATION GAMES: The Dynamo enter Wednesday’s match with a 6-1 (WL) record in elimination games this year across all competitions. Houston has earned four clean sheets in that stretch and has only conceded four goals. The team has outscored opponents 14-4 in elimination games this year and have advanced to their first final since 2018. Houston reached the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2018 after defeating LAFC in a penalty kick shootout and would go on to win the trophy at home against the Philadelphia Union.
  2. CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE: Along with Dynamo head coach Ben Olsen, who managed D.C. United to the 2013 U.S. Open Cup title, Houston’s squad is peppered with players who have plenty of experience in matches with trophies on the line. At the back, defender Erik Sviatchenko won three Danish Superliga titles (2015, 2018 and 2020) with his boyhood club FC Midtylland, as well as two Danish Cup titles (2019 and 2022). With Celtic in Scotland, the Danish international was part of the ‘Invincibles,’ who won the domestic treble in 2017, while he also winning another Scottish Premiership title in 2016 and Scottish League Cup in 2018. Fellow defender Franco Escobar has two MLS Cups to his name (2018 with Atlanta and 2022 with LAFC), while also hoisting in the U.S. Open Cup with Atlanta in 2019. In the middle of the pitch, Mexican international Héctor Herrera won a Premeira Liga title with Porto in 2018 and La Liga title with Atletico Madrid in 2021, while fellow midfielder Artur was a key figure in Columbus Crew’s run to an MLS Cup title in 2022. Additionally, breakout midfielder Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla won two league titles with Panamanian top division club Tauro in 2017 (Clausura) and 2018 (Apertura), while earning Player of the Tournament honors after leading Panama to the 2023 Gold Cup final.
  3. LATE SUMMER HOT STREAK: Since returning to MLS play after Leagues Cup on Aug. 20, Houston has only lost once, completing its longest undefeated streak (seven matches) in MLS for the first time since August 2012. Houston boasts a 5-1-2 (WLD) record in all competitions during that stretch, outscoring opponents 19-5. In those eight games, 13 different players have found the back of the net, and 15 of the 19 goals have been assisted. The Dynamo will look to continue that form as the team looks for its first trophy since 2018. Additionally, Houston currently sits fourth in the Western Conference standings, the first time the Club has been inside the conference’s top-five through at least 25 games since 2017.