Houston Dynamo playoff hopes keep fading. Still, the team and supporters should rejoice that they’ve made their first U.S. Open Cup final.
With MLS championship hopes dimming, should the Houston Dynamo fans be rejoicing at the fact that their team in the U.S. Open Cup final? Well, history and Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching enthusiastically say, absolutely.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup stands as the oldest soccer competition in the States and the country’s oldest ongoing annual team sports tournament.
It started in 1913-1914 as the National Challenge Cup. The organizers crowned their first champion in 1914, the Brooklyn Field Club. The winners beat Brooklyn Celtic 2-1. The Brooklyn Field Club kept raging through American soccer ranks until they dissolved in 1924.
Houston Dynamo earned their first shot at the 105th U.S. Open Cup championship. Their opponent, Philadelphia Union, hosted the final game in 2014 and 2015, but they didn’t win either.
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Even the U.S. Soccer organization notes that Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera has gotten a barrage of disappointments in MLS competition, but has the team humming in U.S. Open Cup play. It’s Houston’s fifth straight home game in this tournament, set for Wednesday, September 26.
But how highly should Houston Dynamo and supporters regard this soccer track? Brian Ching thinks pretty high. Ching even credits this competition as a major part of his soccer legacy. The six-time MLS All-Star emphasizes that if Houston wins the U.S. Open Cup, it lands the Dynamo qualification for the group stage of the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
That also gives momentum to the Houston Dynamo’s competitive edge. The Dynamo take their Open Cup trophy and move through CONCACAF ranks and, they hope, back into the MLS Championship hunt.
It all begins with Houston not only winning this September 26 final before their fans at home, but winning a trophy, too, Ching says. That makes it something beyond special. But it won’t be easy.
It’s anticipated that Houston will affect the offensive scheme of their usual 4-3-3:
Philadelphia Union will likely counter with that same scheme of the 4-3-3:
Winning such a prestigious trophy would also demonstrate that the Dynamo have, at each player’s core, a championship culture. It’s been long since the Dynamo won a championship. The road to that championship begins with this Open Cup final game, proving that they know how to win when it matters most.
It’s also significant, Ching says, that no Houston Dynamo team has ever made the final of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, let alone win it. On the list of every great achievement of this team, the 2018 edition has the chance to add this one.
Will they do it? You’ll have to tune in 8 p.m. ET on September 26 to find out and to gauge for yourself just how significant this competition is. Will it become to U.S. soccer fans what the FA Cup is to football enthusiasts in the U.K.?
It’s already big enough that the broadcast will be handled by both ESPN2 and Univision Deportes Network (UDN). Let’s watch and find out.