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U.S. Open Cup: Lovel Palmer Strike Sees Dynamo Through To the Quarterfinals

The Houston Dynamo opened up their first game of the 2010 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 1-0 win over Miami FC on a hot and muggy Tuesday night. A game-winning strike from Lovel Palmer was all Houston neeed to beat Miami FC of the NASL. While the Dynamo did not make the game easy on themselves, the team was happy with the win and their progress in the tournament.

Houston opened up play with an aggressive 3-5-2 formation that almost looked more like a 3-2-3-2. Francisco Navas Cobo and Sammy Appiah started on the outside of the midfield, and Richard Mulrooney, Adrian Serioux, and Luis Angel Landin formed the middle of the formation. Up top, Houston Head Coach Dominic Kinnear opted to start with a tall and finally-fit Cam Weaver and the always speedy Dominic Oduro. Of the starterss, only three players saw action in this past weekend’s 2-2 tie against the Colorado Rapids.

Both goalkeepers, Tally Hall for the Dynamo and Caleb Patterson-Sewell for Miami FC, had to be active throughout the game as both teams struggled to really control the play. The match was relatively even leading into the half, but Houston came back out of the lockerroom and dominated the second half, both in scoring chances and possession.

The Dynamo’s first solid look at goal came in the 47th minute when Dominic Oduro was taken down in the box following a shot from a Sammy Appiah cross, resulting in a penalty kick. Veteran Richard Mulrooney opted to take the kick and fired a solid shot towards the right post. Miami goalkeeper Patterson-Sewell guessed correctly and was able to push the ball out for a great save.

Miami nearly countered following the blocked penalty until Francisco Navas Cobo brought down a player near in Miami’s attacking third. The resultig Christan Gomez free kick was a solid strike on goal and Tally Hall did a great job pushing it out for a throw-in.

At this point both teams were pushing for the opening goal and trying to create scoring chances. Miami was able to briefly open up pockets of space, but the Dynamo defense was quick to quell any attacks and quickly transitioned into the counterattack.

The deadlock was broken in the 80th minute when second-half substitute Mike Chabala curved in a long ball along the ground through the middle of the Miami defense. Cam Weaver ran through the center of the field on a dummy run, pulling the defense towards the center of the box, freeing up Lovel Palmer to cooly collect the ball and strike it past Patterson-Sewell.

Miami nearly equalized from the restart, but Tally Hall was solid again and was able to save Houston’s clean sheet.

The game turned a bit chippy in the 83rd minute when Miami defender JP Rodriguez used his elbow in an aerial challenge with Cam Weaver. Rodriguez was already on a yellow from an earlier challenge, and with the attack on Weaver the defender saw red and was ejected from the game. The red card was deserved, but Miami’s tempers seemed to flare after the ejection.

Soon thereafter, Danny Cruz was brought down just outside of the edge of the box by a hard tackle from the tired Miami defense. The resulting free kick found Craig Waibel all alone on the back post, but the defender was unable to double Houston’s score with his one-timer shot.

Houston was able to kill off the remainder of the game to the chants of ‘ole’ from the almost 850 fans in the crowd as the team continued to pass the ball around well.

Once the Palmer goal went in Miami FC seemed to realize that this game was over and they did not have enough time or energy to try to level the score. Goalkeeper Tally Hall was credited with seven saves in the match, while Caleb Patterson-Sewell finished with five for Miami.

The Dynamo made this game much more difficult on themselves than they should have, but Coach Kinnear will be happy with three points that seem to have come with minimal collateral damage. Luis Angel Landin left the game towards the end of the first half with what appeared to be a knee knock. Regardless, the Dynamo were competent without him and his injury allowed Coach Kinnear to bring game-winner Lovel Palmer on the pitch.

The victory sees Houston advance to the quarterfinals in the five years since the club was relocated to Houston. Houston reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2009. The game also marks Defenders Eddie Robinson and Craig Waibel 115th career appearances for Houston in all competition.

Dynamo Academy Product Francisco Navas Cobo and midfielder Sammy Appiah made their first competitive starts for Houston. Tally Hall earned his his fifth competitive win for the Dynamo.

Midfielder Lovel Palmer: ‘They want to prove that they can play here or want to play here. So this is always going to be a tough game. The team stuck to the task because we have to gain confidence from these games. We’re not winning games in the MLS. And games like this we have to win to go in games like Thursday and be confident and know that we can come out victorious.’

Forward Luis Angel Landin: ‘Tomorrow they’re going to run some tests so we’ll see what happens. I hope it’s nothing serious. I felt like a twist. That’s why I didn’t want to continue. I repeat, I hope it’s nothing serious and I expect that it’s nothing serious.’

Defender Eddie Robinson: "Those are hard games to play. You have teams that for the most part you’ve never seen before. Tactically you’re not sure what they’re going to do and how they’re coming in. You have a lot of guys that haven’t played a lot of first-team minutes this year, so you know you got to make sure you’re managing the fitness and guys that you sub…I think tonight the most important player for us might be our coach because you have to make sure that guys are prepared for Thursday. But we still put a team that can get a result tonight because our attitude in this locker room always had been and always will be we want to win every game we play.‘

HOU — Lovel Palmer (Dominic Oduro) 81

Miami FC — Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Euzebio Neto, JP Rodrigues, Kyle Veris, Zach Kirby, Edward Santeliz (Brian Shriver 76), Christian Gomez, Cristiano Dias (Steven Jair Cabas 84), Bryan Arguez (Sean Cameron 79), Abe Thompson, Paulo Araujo, Jr.

Houston Dynamo —
Tally Hall, Ryan Cochrane (Lovel Palmer 46), Eddie Robinson, Craig Waibel, Francisco Navas Cobo, Luis Landin (Mike Chabala 43), Richard Mulrooney (Danny Cruz 76), Adrian Serioux, Sammy Appiah, Dominic Oduro, Cam Weaver.

Major League Soccer
Thursday, July 1, 6 p.m. Dynamo at Toronto FC, BMO Field, Toronto ON
Saturday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. vs. Columbus Crew, Robertson Stadium

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (Round 4)
Tuesday, July 6, vs. Chivas USA or at Austin Aztex – will have game information on Wednesday.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.