TEENAGE Hadebe’s Houston Dynamo don’t only have a box office smash hit Cup final against Lionel Messi and his Inter Miami but have also booked a place in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup.
The Zimbabwe international has just recovered from a horrible injury and was not part of the Houston side which beat Real Salt Lake 3-1, after extra-time, in the US Open Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.
He led the post-match pitch celebrations, wearing a basketball jersey and colourful pants.
“Dancing into the final,” tweeted Houston. “Welcome back to the celebrations @hadebe_teenage.”
Later, Hadebe posed for photos with NBA superstar James Harden.
The victory means they have a final showdown against Messi and company at Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium on September 27.
By then, Hadebe should be back in action.
With the win, Houston claims a 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup slot which is awarded to the Open Cup champion.
Given Miami already claimed a Champions Cup berth by virtue of winning the Leagues Cup, the prize goes to Houston.
Lionel Messi celebrates his first trophy with Inter Miami.
The US Open Cup is American soccer’s oldest and most important knockout competition, dating back more than a century to 1914 and is similar to England’s FA Cup or Spain’s Copa del Rey.
Messi registered two assists and converted a penalty kick to help Inter Miami come back from a two-goal deficit and beat Cincinnati 5-4 on penalties.
Messi was held scoreless for the first time since joining Inter Miami after he failed to score in the semi-final.
However, he assisted two second-half headed goals by Leonardo Campana which took the game into extra time. The match was tied 2-2 after 90 minutes.
The Argentine superstar got his first assist of the game from a free kick in the 68th minute to cut Miami’s deficit to 2-1.
It was his cross into the box, in the dying minutes of the game, that helped Campana find the net and sent the game to overtime.
In the shootout, Nick Hagglund missed Cincinnati’s final kick, while 18-year-old Argentina national Benjamin Cremaschi clinched the victory for Inter Miami.
Houston produced some of their own magic through Panamanian star Adalberto Carrasquilla in a hard-fought affair.
Houston took a late first-half lead through Mexico star Héctor Herrera, but a confident RSL equalised midway through the second period.
Carrasquilla, who was dangerous throughout the match, conjured the go-ahead goal with the final kick of the first extra-time period, before triggering the play that led to Luís Caicedo putting the 2018 Open Cup champions out of sight.
Led by head coach Ben Olsen – who won the Open Cup as a player and coach of D.C. United – Houston will be seeking their second Open Cup trophy.