Houston Dynamo stun Inter Miami in US Open Cup final without Lionel Messi

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Houston Dynamo claim their second US Open Cup title in five years

Houston Dynamo defeated Inter Miami 2-1 in the final of the US Open Cup on Wednesday, September 28, 2023, at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The visitors scored two goals in the first half through Griffin Dorsey and Amine Bassi, while Inter Miami could only manage a late consolation from Josef Martinez in stoppage time.

Houston Dynamo also won the US Open Cup in 2018, making it their fourth major trophy in their history. The US Open Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the United States, dating back to 1914. It is open to all amateur and professional teams affiliated with the US Soccer Federation.

Inter Miami, on the other hand, missed the chance to win their second trophy of the season, after winning the Leagues Cup in August. The hosts were without their star player Lionel Messi, who was sidelined with an injury he picked up while playing for Argentina in the World Cup qualifiers. Messi watched the game from the stands, along with his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba, who was also injured.

Houston Dynamo dominate the first half with two goals

Houston Dynamo started the game with more intensity and aggression, putting pressure on Inter Miami’s defense. The visitors opened the scoring in the 18th minute, when Dorsey received a pass from Héctor Herrera and fired a low shot past the goalkeeper Nick Marsman.

Houston Dynamo doubled their lead in the 36th minute, when Bassi converted a penalty after he was fouled by Leandro González Pírez in the box. Bassi sent Marsman the wrong way and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

Houston Dynamo stun Inter Miami in US Open Cup

Inter Miami struggled to create any clear chances in the first half, as Houston Dynamo’s midfield controlled the tempo and possession of the game. The hosts’ best opportunity came in the 45th minute, when Rodolfo Pizarro’s header from a corner was saved by Andrew Tarbell.

Inter Miami fight back in the second half but fall short

Inter Miami came out with more urgency and determination in the second half, as they tried to find a way back into the game. The hosts made several substitutions, bringing on Gonzalo Higuaín, Blaise Matuidi, and Lewis Morgan to add more firepower and creativity.

Inter Miami had more shots and corners in the second half, but Houston Dynamo’s defense held firm and denied them any clear openings. Tarbell made some crucial saves, including a diving stop to keep out a free kick from Pizarro in the 66th minute.

Inter Miami finally scored in the 93rd minute, when Martinez headed in a cross from Morgan, but it was too little too late. Houston Dynamo celebrated their victory, while Inter Miami were left to rue their missed chances and the absence of Messi.

Houston Dynamo’s coach praises his midfield for the win

Houston Dynamo’s head coach Ben Olsen praised his midfield for their performance, especially Herrera, Bassi, Artur, and Coco Carrasquilla. Olsen said that they were the key to winning the game, as they dictated the pace and created chances for the attackers.

Olsen, who is a former US men’s national team player and a US Open Cup winner as a coach of DC United, said that winning the trophy was huge for the club and the city of Houston. He said that Houston Dynamo had been through a rough patch in recent years, but this win showed that they were a competitive team in the MLS and other competitions.

Olsen also congratulated Inter Miami for reaching the final and said that they were a tough opponent. He said that he hoped Messi would recover soon and play again, as he was a great player and a great ambassador for the game.

Inter Miami’s coach says Messi’s fitness is the priority

Inter Miami’s head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino said that Messi’s fitness was the priority for the club, and that he did not want to risk him playing in the final. Martino, who is a former Barcelona and Argentina coach, said that Messi had an old injury that flared up during the international break, and that he was not ready to play.

Martino said that Messi was disappointed to miss the final, but he understood the decision. He said that Messi was a professional and a leader, and that he supported his teammates from the stands. Martino said that Messi would surely play again before the end of the season, as he was eager to help the team.

Martino also said that he was proud of his players for reaching the final and for fighting until the end. He said that Inter Miami had a good season, winning the Leagues Cup and improving their position in the league. He said that the team had a lot of potential and that he was optimistic about the future.

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