Minnesota United center back Brent Kallman was looking forward to making a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup this year, to see what that winning sensation would feel like.
But hope for such a streak will have to wait until 2019.
United’s run in the tournament that pits all levels of U.S. soccer against each other ended Monday on the road against Houston.
Following a galvanizing penalty kick shootout victory in the Loons’ first game of the tournament, United lost 1-0 to the fellow Major League Soccer team in the round of 16. United had beaten Houston earlier this year at TCF Bank Stadium. But in three trips to BBVA Compass Stadium since last season, the Loons have yet to leave Texas as winners.
Coach Adrian Heath fielded a fairly full-strength lineup, with another league game not until Saturday night at the Colorado Rapids. The Loons managed to keep a 0-0 score line through the first half. But shortly after halftime, Houston took the lead.
Defender Adam Lundqvist sent a corner kick to the near post and found forward Mauro Manotas, who headed in a goal in the 47th minute.
But the Loons provided some late drama in the closing minutes of the game. Winger Alexi Gomez crossed the ball to fellow winger Miguel Ibarra, who jumped up to meet the ball with a header when a Dynamo player undercut him. The referee awarded a penalty kick for the contact, but playmaker Darwin Quintero hit the post, squandering his team’s best chance at an equalizer.
Ibarra briefly left the field with what appeared to be a cut near his left ear. But he continued to play, as United was out of substitutions.
This was the furthest United had ever made it in the Open Cup. Houston moves on to face defending champion Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals. Kansas City beat FC Dallas in its Sweet 16 game and also knocked United out of last year’s tournament.