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