Houston Dynamo 2 jumped to second in the Western Conference following a 5-4 shootout win over North Texas SC in the Texas Derby at Choctaw Stadium Friday evening.
The match finished in a 3-3 deadlock in regulation after North Texas SC overcame a two-goal deficit and equalized in the 84th minute.
Both sides came into the game level on 30 points, but it's Dynamo Dos that moved past North Texas in the standings and improved to four games unbeaten. As for North Texas SC, the home side suffered a third straight winless weekend in the Western Conference.
The game also marked the second iteration of the Texas derby in MLS NEXT Pro as Dynamo Dos now claimed the majority of the points, following up a 3-2 win in the first game on April 23.
Despite ultimately losing 3-2 at home, North Texas SC battled Dynamo Dos until the end and even finished the first half with more possession of the ball with 63% and four more shots.
That being said, Dynamo Dos took a 2-0 lead by the 24th minute after forward Isaiah LeFlore grabbed his first goal of the night five minutes into the game and midfielder Marcelo Palomino converted a penalty kick.
North Texas SC cut the deficit in half following a corner kick with a header at point blank from forward Jose Mulato in the 36th minute.
In spite of the increased pressure from the home side at the end of the first half, Dynamo Dos made it 3-1 after LeFlore netted his second, which marked his third goal in two matches.
But not so fast.
North Texas SC roared back and scored twice in an 18-minute span to level the game at 3-3 to send the game into a shootout.
Midfielder Tomas Lacerda initiated the comeback with a ferocious volley to the top left corner after a corner kick and Mulato scored his second goal in the 84th minute for the equalizer.
North Texas SC had the opportunity to win the shootout after Mulato blasted the ball over the net when it was level at 3-3, but midfielder D’Alessandro Herrera missed far left.
Houston Dynamo Dos defender Jon-Talen Maples scored the winning penalty to settle the shootout 5-4 after goalkeeper Xavier Valdez saved the previous penalty from North Texas SC defender Paul Amedume.
The Story: The Texas derby showed how tough the West really is
In the battle of Texas, Houston Dynamo 2 triumphed 5-4 in a shootout over North Texas SC following a 3-3 finish in regulation.
Forwards Isaiah LeFlore and Jose Mulato both registered braces that marked Lefore’s third goal in two games and Mulato’s sixth on the season so far.
The Texas derby delivered and showed that the fight for the Western Conference is heating up.
St. Louis CITY2 currently sits atop of the standings, but Dynamo Dos now trail by just a point. And despite going winless in three, North Texas SC remained a top-four seed.
Four teams in the West have over 30 points now after this game with another four having over 20 points.
And if this clash between Western Conference and in-state rivals is an indicator of anything, it's that the playoff race in the incoming weeks is going to be intense.