HOUSTON (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake’s dream of hoisting the U.S. Open Cup trophy is over after a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo in the semifinals Wednesday night.
If RSL would have pulled out the victory, it would have hosted Lionel Messi and Inter Miami in the championship game next month. Instead, Houston will travel to South Beach to play for the title.
“It was a tough match,” said RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “We knew coming here against this group that it was going to be a tough match. I’m really proud of the way the guys fought.”
RSL came into the match with an 11-game unbeaten streak against Houston. But the Dynamo scored first in the stoppage time in the first half, when RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath came way out of the goal to try to stop an opportunity, but Amine Bassi found Hector Herrera, who put it past a couple of RSL defenders to give Houston the 1-0 lead at the half.
Real Salt Lake found the equalizer in the 64th minute, as Jefferson Savarino’s pass found the head of Anderson Julio, who just checked into the game, and Julio buried the tying goal in the back of the net.
After thwarting several scoring chances, MacMath, who faced 30 shots including ten on frame, helped send the game into overtime.
In the suffocating humidity, RSL started to wilt in OT, giving up the go-ahead goal to Adalberto Carrasquilla in the 104th minute. The Dynamo added another goal in the dying moments of the game by Luis Caicedo to clinch the match for the home squad.
“On the night, we just weren’t good enough with the ball,” Mastroeni said. “We found ourselves in cycles that are tough to sustain. Credit to Houston, they’re a great team. But the guys gave everything.”
After owning an 11-game road unbeaten streak, RSL has now dropped two straight on the road. This was Real’s first match in 15 days since a 4-0 loss to LAFC.
RSL and Houston will meet again on Saturday at America First Field in Sandy as the MLS regular season resumes. Real Salt Lake (10-7-7) is currently in third place in the Western Conference standings with ten games left in the regular season.