HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo are loaded with young attacking talent, but in Thursday’s Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round match against Sporting Kansas City, it was 37-year-old Vicente Sánchez who proved to be the difference-maker in their 1-0 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Sánchez entered the match in the 87th minute, but took the reins in extra time. Sánchez linked up with 21-year-old Alberth Elis, one of the Dynamo’s young attackers, for the game’s only goal.
Stationed wide right, the veteran winger received the ball and got by Sporting KC defender Jimmy Medrandra not once, but twice, as the Uruguayan made his way to the touch line before whipping in a low cross to Elis.
Elis settled the ball before rifling a shot to give Houston the lead, and the eventual win.
“I am not surprised about Vicente Sánchez because that’s why I brought him and invited him to be part of this project,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “He gave us that possibility to counterattack, to create problems for them [Sporting KC] and to create a lot of possibilities and options to be dangerous.”
Elis, when asked about his opportunistic goal, said the game-winning play was 80-percent Sánchez.
“We all know he’s a difference-maker when he enters the game,” Elis said. “He’s one of the best players we have and he always enters the game with the right attitude.”
Elis, currently a young Designated Player, might as well had been talking about himself. The Dynamo view the Honduran international – on loan from Liga MX side Monterrey – as a crucial piece.
Thursday’s goal marked Elis’ 11th of the year and possibly the most important of his short MLS career.
Sánchez could have joined Elis on the scorer’s sheet but missed a chip shot and had a penalty saved in the last minute of extra time. Failing to convert those gifted attempts proved only blemish on an otherwise superb night.
“When Vicente goes on the field, he does things … we still don’t have the type of players that can do that,” Cabrera said. “Because of his experience and his time on the field. And also, he keeps himself in very good shape. Because the dynamic and intensity that he plays with are very important.”