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Carlos Saldaña plays hero as Detroit City eliminates Open Cup title holder Dynamo

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/07/24, 11:28PM EDT


Goalkeeper scores decisive goal in 11th round of shootout to send Le Rouge into Round of 16

Detroit City FC, meet your new Open Cup goalkeeping hero.

It might not be the one you expected.

Making just his second start for Le Rouge since his offseason arrival, Carlos Saldaña scored the decisive goal in the 11th round of a penalty shootout as the visitors eliminated defending U.S. Open Cup title holder Houston Dynamo FC 10-9 from the spot after the sides played an epic 3-3 draw through extra time on Tuesday night a Shell Energy Stadium.

Saldaña’s finish was the first time DCFC led, coming after his goalkeeping counterpart Andrew Tarbell had opened the 11th round by blazing his shot over the crossbar. The 27-year-old had earlier made a crucial save in the top of the fifth round with the game on the line, denying Ibrahim Aliyu with a diving save on a shot to the left corner when Houston could have clinched its place in the Round of 16.

Instead, with a chance to extend the shootout, Michael Bryant kept his cool and converted. So too did Dominic Gasso, Daniel Espeleta, Devon Amoo-Mensah, Connor Rutz and Stephen Carroll each time a Dynamo shooter forced them to keep Detroit’s Open Cup hopes alive.

And then, Saldaña delivered the decisive blow. After Tarbell went high, he went low, underneath Tarbell’s body to find the net and be embraced by his teammates as they flooded out of the center circle and the dugout.

Houston had made an ideal start to the defense of their Open Cup crown. A sixth-minute goal by Griffin Dorsey off a near-post corner kick by Mexican international Hector Herrera put the hosts ahead, and when Latif Blessing capitalized on a turnover in the Detroit half to make it a two-goal lead Le Rouge had yet to register a shot.

But four minutes before halftime came Detroit’s first shot on target, and Ryan Williams’ strike was a beauty. A curling finish from 30 yards that dipped into the top-right corner of the net left Tarbell no chance and breathed life into the visitors. DCFC carried their momentum into the second half, playing the Dynamo far more evenly, and with 15 minutes to go Yazeed Matthews leveled the game.

It remained even for only two minutes as Houston again hit the front, Panamanian international Coco Carasquilla given space outside the penalty area to pick out the bottom-left corner with a precise finish. With seven minutes to go, however, Le Rouge responded again on a beautiful move down the right that saw Amoo-Mensah cut back a cross for Maxi Rodriguez to sweep home into the left corner.

From there, the siege of Detroit’s goal began as the Dynamo sought a winner. DCFC faced eight shots in extra time, recording none of its own, but none got through to Saldaña in the net as the defense blocked four of the efforts.

And then, when the pressure was at its highest, Saldaña came through to send Detroit into the Round of 16 for the first time, and etch his name into the club’s Open Cup lore.

Scoring Summary
– Griffin Dorsey (Hector Herrera) 6’
HOU – Latif Blessing (Gabriel Segal) 31’
DET – Ryan Williams 41’
DET – Yazeed Matthews (Ali Coote) 75’
HOU – Coco Carasquilla (Amine Bassi) – 77’
DET – Maxi Rodriguez (Devon Amoo-Mensah) 83’

Penalty Shootout

Houston Dynamo FC – Amine Bassi, scored; Sebastian Kowalczyk, scored; Coco Carasquilla, scored; Jan Gregus, scored; Ibrahim Aliyu, saved; Erik Sviatchenko, scored; Ethan Bartlow, scored; Griffin Dorsey, scored; Tate Schmitt, scored; Artur, scored; Andrew Tarbell, missed

Detroit City FC – Yazeed Matthews, scored; Alex Villanueva, scored; Ben Morris, saved; James Murphy, scored; Michael Bryant, scored; Dominic Gasso, scored; Daniel Espeleta, scored; Devon Amoo-Mensah, scored; Connor Rutz, scored; Stephen Carroll, scored; Carlos Saldaña, scored

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