The Dynamo Dos ended the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season the same way they started with a win. The 2-0 win over North Texas SC secured a proverbial three way first place tie in the Western Conference on Decision Day 2022.
Houston, one of the best home teams this season wasted little time getting on the board after a scoreless first half. Midfielder Marcelo Palomino ran onto a service at the top of the 18 yard box from Beto Avila and banged home the game winner in the 46th minute. It was his team leading seventh goal of the season.
Juan Castilla double the Dynamo lead 21 minutes later. Castilla made a run down the left wing racing onto a pass from Avila. His left footed shot found the back of the net for his first of the season.
Houston was unbeaten against NTSC earning two wins and a draw.
With the win, the Dynamo 2 ended in a tie with St. Louis City FC and the Tacoma Defiance in the Western Conference table. By virtue of tiebreaking rules, Houston became the third seed and will face Tacoma next week in the Pacific Northwest.
Acting Dynamo 2 head coach Jeremy Hurdle filling in for interim head coach Daniel Roberts being out for card accumulation shared his thoughts about the team win and what AVEVA Stadium has meant to this club.
"We talked about being on the home field for the last regular season game here at AVEVAStadium, which has been a fortress for us,and just trying to attack every phase of the game every moment in the game, when the ball is there defensively,pressing,set pieces. We wanted that mentality from the beginning. And I think the guys showed that pretty well,” began Hurdle.
Houston won every home game with the exception of a draw that ended in a loss of an extra point on penalty kicks.
“Yeah, it's huge, right? If your home form is that good, you're always gonna put yourself in a good spot," continued Hurdle. "And you know, it's great to obviously have the home support here. Especially tonight the atmosphere was awesome. I think that's a big part of why this spot has been so difficult to come and play.”
With regular keeper Xavier Valdez called up for national team duty and Andrew Pannenberg being signed to a short term loan for the first team's game in Los Angeles. goalkeeper Justin Stewart made his professional debut and earned a clean sheet in his first start. Palomino echoed the feelings of the team on Stewart's performance.
“Anytime you can have a second or third goalie step up and make an impact like that is huge.," explained Palomino. "It wasn't an easy game to come into, but awesome for him to have his debut in such an important game and perform well. He did great and I think that just goes to show how much depth we have on this team. And that goes the same goes for every position you know we have starters and subs and people that aren't even roster that can come in and make a difference.”
Houston now waits for the official time and date for their playoff game against Tacoma in Washington State. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs with each winning on their home pitch.