SOCCER MATTERS

Houston Dynamo win 2018 U.S. Open Cup

Damarcus Beasley and the Dynamo celebrate winning the U.S. Open Cup. Photo courtesy of Nigel Brooks

The Houston Dynamo ended a 10 year title drought as a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union crowned them the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champions.

Mauro Manotas scored two goals in the 4th and 25th minutes to give the Dynamo the lead at halftime before an Auston Trusty own goal secured the victory in the 65th minute. The Dynamo forward also extended his season total to 20 goals across all competitions - the only player in team history to accomplish that in a single season.

“The team was spectacular,” said Manotas. “The mentality with which we came out was what we needed. When the team is involved and committed, nobody can beat us. Today we showed it.”

The Open Cup title - the club’s first major championship since the 2007 MLS Cup - is the first trophy with the club for all members of the roster as no players remain from that famed group that won back-to-back MLS titles. Ricardo Clark, the last player remaining from that team, was not extended in the offseason.

Manotas, 23, is part of a young crop of players that look to bring success through the next couple of years. Midfielder Tomas Martinez, 23, Defender Alejandro Fuenmayor, 22, and MLS All-Star Forward Alberth Elis, 22, were the other players under the age of 25 in the team’s starting lineup.

Despite the double, Manotas also attributed the win to the return of fellow Colombian and 2017 Team MVP Juan David Cabezas. The 27-year-old Cabezas has missed 25 MLS matches this season and his absence has been felt as the team is all but eliminated from the playoff race.

“The team recognized that it was time to stop committing the same mistakes from past games,” said Cabezas. “It was a beautiful opportunity for us to set a different tone for the season. In the regular season, it has not been easy. Having the championship so close, we said that we needed to put in our all and, surely, would celebrate after. Celebrating is what we are doing now.”

The title is also a first for some Houston area natives. Houston born Arturo Alvarez, 33, Spring’s Tyler Deric, 30, and Wharton’s Memo Rodriguez, 22, are the first Dynamo players with local roots to receive a medal with the team, the latter two being products of the Academy.

For veterans like 34-year-old Oscar Boniek Garcia, the longest tenured Dynamo on the roster in his seventh season with the club, and 36-year-old DaMarcus Beasley the trophy was a long time coming. The four-time FIFA World Cup veteran Beasley picked up his third U.S. Open Cup title - his first club title in eight years - and was one of three players in the starting XI with cup experience alongside goalkeeper Joe Willis, a 2013 winner with D.C. United, and defender Philippe Senderos, who won the 2004–05 FA Cup with English giant Arsenal.

“The players, the coaches put so much effort into trying to win this cup,” said Beasley. “And it’s even sweeter because of the season we’ve been having. Like I said before, this doesn’t save our season, but at the same time, it feels damn good to win this cup, to be champions.”

What is the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup?

In it’s 105th edition, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the United States. An amateur tournament for much of its history, the Open Cup is a national knockout tournament contested annually by teams in all divisions of American soccer throughout the course of the regular season.

Like the AFC Championship in the National Football League, the U.S. Open Cup is named after the iconic business owner Lamar Hunt. Hunt was one of the driving forces in American soccer and his family owns the Major League Soccer club FC Dallas, who now houses the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

While the MLS Cup is the premier title in U.S. soccer, the Open Cup is still a prestigious championship and one that comes with similar benefits - a $300,000 prize and a spot in the Concacaf Champions League next season.

What does it mean for the Dynamo?

The Dynamo became the first professional sports team to lift a trophy on Houston soil since the 2000 Houston Comets and the first men’s team to do so since the 1994-95 Houston Rockets.

Next year, the Dynamo will play in a third competition - and start the season one month sooner in February - as this title qualifies them to the 2019 Concacaf Champions League. While their opponent is yet to be determined, the team will have to opportunity to have international fixtures against competition from either Canada, Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean.

The lowest spender in MLS, the Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera has already stated that the team will need to be appropriately reinforced in the offseason to be able to compete.

 

Photo courtesy of Nike, Inc.

English Premier League

Every goal from Matchday 23 in the Premier League | NBC Sports www.youtube.com

The race for the top four spots continues to intensify in the Premier League with Manchester United running hot with six straight wins. Their latest win over Brighton now puts the Red Devils three points out of a Champions League spot, thanks to Arsenal's 2-0 win over London rivals Chelsea. At the top of the table, Liverpool continue to march on despite complicating themselves a bit in an eventual 4-3 win over Crystal Palace. Manchester City also picked up three points with the hope of catching up if Liverpool were to slip up.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (60), 2. Manchester City (56), 3. Tottenham (51), 4. Chelsea (47), 5. Arsenal (44), 6. Manchester United (44)

Scoring leader: 16 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (46), 2. Atlético Madrid (41), 3. Real Madrid (36), 4. Sevilla (33), 5. Alavés (32), 6. Getafe (31)

Scoring leader: 18 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is back on after the end of the winter break. The top two dogs in the title fight- Dortmund and Bayern Munich - each picked up three points. The storyline here will be to see if Dortmund will be able to break Bayern's quest for a seventh consecutive league title. Dortmund's 1-0 win over Leipzig featured a unique matchup for American fans as U.S. men's national team players Christian Pulisic and Leipzig's Tyler Adams were on opposite ends of the sideline. Adams, who recently transferred to RB Leipzig from sister club New York Red Bulls, is still waiting to make his Bundesliga debut.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (45), 2. Bayern Munich (39), 3. Monchengladbach (36), 4. RB Leipzig (31), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (30), 6. Wolfsburg (28)

Scoring leader: 13 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 8 - Sébastien Haller (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Italian Serie A

Juventus and A.C. Milan faced off midweek in the SuperCoppa Italiana final that was contested on foreign soil in Saudi Arabia. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the lone goal to pick up his first piece of silverware with his new club.
Top six: 1. Juventus (56), 2. Napoli (47), 3. Inter Milan (40), 4. Milan (34), 5. Roma (33), 6. Lazio (32)

Scoring leader: 14 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) / Duván Zapata (Atalanta) / Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (53), 2. Lille (40), 3. Lyon (37), 4. Saint-Étienne (36), 5. Strasbourg (32, 6. Montpellier (31)

Scoring leader: 17 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 7 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Kenny Lala (Strasbourg) / Memphis Depay (Lyon) / Nicolas Pépé (Lille)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (49), 2. Ajax (47), 3. Feyenoord (36)

Scoring leader: 15 - Luuk de Jong (PSV)

Assists leader: 9 - Arbër Zeneli (Heerenveen)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (51), 2. Club Brugge (41), 3. Antwerp (41)

Scoring leader: 16 - Mbwana Samatta (Genk)

Assists leader: 12 - Hans Vanaken (Brugge)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (46), 2. Benfica (41), 3. Braga (40)

Scoring leader: 12 - Dyego Sousa (Braga)

Assists leader: 7 - Pizzi (Benfica)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (42), 2. Rangers (42), 3. Kilmarnock (41)

Scoring leader: 12 - Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Assists leader: 8 - James Tavernier (Rangers)

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Major League Soccer

Chris Duvall says winning mentality set on day one www.youtube.com

Preseason is officially underway for all 24 teams in Major League Soccer, including the hometown Houston Dynamo. The Dynamo will host an open practice at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday. The transfer saga surrounding star Alberth Elis appears to be over as reports from Honduras state that the player has agreed to forego his transfer demand, at least until the summer transfer window.

Up the road in Austin, Major League Soccer announced Austin FC as the newest club to join the league. The team will begin play in the 2021 season. Soccer Matters host Glenn Davis spoke exclusively with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and FOX Sports Analyst Alexi Lalas on what the addition of Austin means for the league and soccer in Texas.

Liga MX

Top eight: 1. Chivas Guadalajara (9), 2. Monterrey (7), 3. Toluca FC (6), 4. Lobos BUAP (6), 5. Club America (6), 6. Necaxa (6), 7. Tigres UANL (4), 8. Atlas (4)

Scoring leader: 4 - Leonardo Ramos (Lobos BUAP)

Assists leader: 3 - Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Jan. 22

1:30 p.m. - [Women's International Friendly] Spain vs. USA (ESPN2/Univision Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [Portuguese League Cup] Benfica vs. Porto (fuboTV)

2:30 p.m. - [Copa Del Rey] Getafe vs. Valencia (beIN SPORTS)

Wednesday, Jan. 23

1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Burton Albion vs. Manchester City (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [Scottish Premiership] Kilmarnock vs. Rangers (B/R Live)

2:30 p.m. - [Copa Del Rey] Sevilla vs. FC Barcelona (beIN SPORTS)

7:00 p.m. - [Argentine Superliga] River Plate vs. Union Santa Fe (Fanatiz)

Thursday, Jan. 24

12:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Espanyol vs. Real Betis (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Chelsea vs. Tottenham (ESPN+)

2:30 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Real Madrid vs. Girona (beIN Sports)

Friday, Jan. 25

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hertha Berlin vs. Schalke (FS2/Univision Deportes)

1:45 p.m. - [Scottish Cup] Cowdenbeath vs. Rangers (ESPN+)

1:55 p.m. - [English FA Cup] Arsenal v Manchester United (ESPN+)

Saturday, Jan. 26

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. Hannover (FS1/Univision Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Monchengladbach vs. Augsburg (FS2)

9:00 a.m. - [English FA Cup] Manchester City v Burnley (ESPN+)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Getafe (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. Frankfurt (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] A.C. Milan vs. Napoli (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Betis (beIN Sports)

Sunday, Jan. 27

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Girona vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [English FA Cup] Crystal Palace v Tottenham (ESPN+)

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Torino vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)

12:00 p.m. - [English FA Cup] Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday (ESPN+)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Juventus (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Espanyol vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

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