• March 6, 2022

Comeback Kids

Sunday’s Featured Match of the Day pitted St. Louis Scott Gallagher – Missouri against Houston Dynamo Youth in the U15 age group. Both squads lead their respective divisions (Dynamo: South Division of the Texas Conference and SLSG – MO: South Division of the Heartland Conference), and both are currently in a Champions League spot for playoffs, setting up what was going to be an entertaining match at ECNL Texas

From the opening whistle, SLSG – MO pushed forward, holding the ball into Houston Dynamo’s defending third. As Dynamo attempted to methodically moved the ball into the middle third, SLSG – MO was there to stop momentum and keep the ball in their attacking zone. Eventually, SLSG – MO was rewarded for their efforts, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the half. 

Ahmad Shebl had the ball just outside the 18-yard box, when he cut into the middle of the field. He turned and ripped a shot on net, slipping it under the goalkeeper for the score to give SLSG – MO the 1-0 lead in the 16th minute. 

With the 1-0 lead, SLSG – MO continued to hold possession and dictate the pace of the game with the ball at their feet. Using strong passing and an active counter, the Dynamo weren’t able to build out of the back much. SLSG – MO kept the Texas team on their own side of the field for much of the half, and when the midway whistle blew, SLSG – MO had earned its 1-0 lead. 

Following the halftime break though, Dynamo flipped the switch, putting SLSG – MO back on their heels and was immediately rewarded for it. Just two minutes into the second half, Rowan Simms raced toward a 50-50 ball in the box and won. With a soft touch, he knocked the ball just past the reach of the goalkeeper and across the goal line, tying the game at 1-1. 

Minutes later, Dynamo continued to push forward and build its offense through the midfielder and amid a counterattack, SLSG’s Bashor Soufi was whistled for his second caution of the day, dropping SLSG – MO to 10 players for the rest of the match. 

Now playing with an extra player and with the wind to their back, Houston Dynamo was able to play more freely and aggressively in the attacking third, which proved to be key in their comeback. In the 68th minute, Neel Menon received a cross on the back post and one-timed a shot destined for the top corner. The SLSG – MO goalkeeper got his hands on the shot, but it wasn’t enough and Houston Dynamo had a 2-1 lead. 

“In the second half, we had the wind with us, so winning every ball was really important,” Menon said. “I got pushed back into the play in the box and I saw the ball coming over to me. I really wanted to score, so I just shot it and it went in.”

The minutes continued to tick away and Houston Dynamo refused to let SLSG – MO claw its way back into the contest, interrupting passing lanes and keeping the SLSG – MO defense hemmed in its defensive zone. But as the game entered its final minutes, SLSG – MO finally was able to build an attack and put pressure on the Houston backline. 

SLSG – MO quickly moved the ball up the pitch, earning a corner kick in the dying minutes that was cleared, but quickly regrouped to send in another wave of attack. Houston disrupted the attempt and the ensuing clear sprung Jonathan Rivas for a one-on-one battle with the SLSG – MO goalkeeper. With one touch to the right, Rivas avoided the sliding keeper, potting his shot into the open net to solidify the Dynamo’s 3-1 victory. 

With its 1-0 win against Santa Clara Sporting yesterday, Houston Dynamo will now look to complete its perfect weekend against La Roca, while SLSG – MO will aim to end ECNL Texas on a high note when the team faces Tulsa SC Monday. 

“This win meant a lot to us,” Menon said. “We were down in the first half, and coming back to win is really fun and exciting. Tomorrow, I’m just really excited to work hard with my team and hopefully, we’ll win that last game.”

To view the complete scores and schedule for ECNL Texas, click here.