Dynamic win

Dynamo silence soccer-rabid Portland, advance to Western Conference finals

Portland is a tough place to play, but the Dynamo got it done. Victor Araiza

Houston, don’t stop dreaming. The Dynamo are heading to their seventh conference finals appearance in the club’s 12th year history. 

With goals from Dylan Remick and Mauro Manotas, the Dynamo obtained a 2-1 victory over a Portland Timbers side that finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season. The win places Houston amongst the four remaining teams in Major League Soccer fighting for the MLS Cup.

“It’s rewarding for the players,” said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Now we continue dreaming and thinking about the possibilities that are in front of us. We are not on vacation yet.”

The team will have a mini-vacation of sorts, however, due to the FIFA international break. While four players head off to play with their national team, the rest of the club is off until Friday.

The break in the schedule pushes their date with defending MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders FC to begin November 21 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo will travel back to the pacific northwest for the second game of the series on November 30, with the winner of the combined scores advancing to the 2017 MLS Cup Final.

“We’re going to enjoy tonight and then we’re going to talk about [Seattle],” said Cabrera. “We have a long break. Too long in my opinion, but we’re going to work. Tonight, we’re just going to enjoy the game we have won.”

The break does come at a good time as it allows players to get some rest while opening the opportunity for injured players to return for the series with the Sounders. Injuries were part of the story in this series versus Portland as both teams were plagued with absences.

Four-time FIFA World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley was sidelined after suffering a right quad injury in training Saturday. Remick - who found out only hours before the game that he would be starting - took his spot in the starting lineup and provided the goal that qualified Houston into the next round.

“My right foot hasn’t done that a lot in my life,” said Remick, a defender by trade. “I was pretty surprised myself so it took a while to settle in. It was, again, a good team effort on the goal and in the game in general.”

The Dynamo also had to make a change at goalkeeper after reigning MLS Player of the Month Tyler Deric was suspended due to an off-field incident earlier in the week. Joe Willis, who started eight games during the regular season, stepped in with a solid performance. 

Now the Dynamo have two weeks to gameplan for their next opponent in the MLS Cup Playoffs, something many fans didn’t think to hear after the team missed the postseason in their previous three seasons. This is a new Houston Dynamo, however, and one that isn’t done playing soccer in 2017.

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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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