HOUSTON 2, SAN JOSE 1

5 kicks from Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Alberth Elis proved to be too much for the San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston)

After a bye week in their schedule, the Houston Dynamo returned to action with a 2-1 league win over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. Forward Alberth Elis and midfielder Tomas Martinez scored the goals that would give the Dynamo the win and the three points.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Undefeated streak rolls on

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes | April 13, 2019 www.youtube.com

The Dynamo improved to a 4-0-1 to start the season, their best in club history. This match could've gone to either team as both had opportunities to take the lead in the first half - and both teams were denied by the post. The Dynamo had the slight edge but could not translate that on the scoreboard as forward Mauro Manotas hit the left post on a penalty attempt in the 35th minute.

The second half would be delayed for 70 minutes due to a weather delay but it would be the Dynamo who would go on to win. Alberth Elis went coast to coast as he sped across the field to open the scoring in the 52nd minute. The Earthquakes responded, scoring the tying goal four minutes later, before Martinez would score the winner in the 60th minute.

While the quality of their opponents can be questioned, the Dynamo have taken care of the opposition placed in front of them for a good start to the year. Friday's game at LA Galaxy will give us a better sense of what this team is really capable of.

2) Alberth Elis in beast mode

Elis has tallied three goals and three assists, making him responsible for six of the Dynamo's 12 team goals this season. Sunday's goal extended his scoring streak to three consecutive matches.

The Honduran is arguably the Dynamo's most valuable player, and that's meant in no way to slight Manotas who scored 19 league goals last season. It can even be said that Manotas has had more success because of the support Elis brings him out wide.

With the amount of success that Elis has had in recent weeks, it's still amazing that other teams will only apply one defender on him. That's their mistake and one the Dynamo will be glad to capitalize on every game.

3) Manotas the facilitator

Mauro Manotas enjoyed the best season for a Dynamo forward in 2018 by scoring 25 goals across all competitions. He started this season with two goals in the first two games of the year and since gone on to provide four assists in the past three games, placing him in a tie for second in the league.

The 23-year-old Colombian forward will likely end the year with more goals than assists, but his versatility to do both well is a testament to his work ethic and just another side of his game that makes him lethal in attack.

4) Maynor Figueroa a key piece

Many Dynamo fans probably didn't expect much when the team announced the signing of 35-year-old defender Maynor Figueroa. The Honduran national team captain, who featured in over 150 matches for then-Premier League side Wigan Athletic, has seen the starting lineup in four of the Dynamo's five league matches and all four Champions League matches earlier this year. He's still got a rocket of a shot as well, denied only by the woodwork from long range early in the first half.

Will he be a starter still at the end of the season? That remains to be seen but it's obvious that he has the trust of the manager so expect to see plenty more of Figueroa, at least until June.

5) Tomas Martinez turns in solid outing

Coming out of famed Argentine club River Plate, Martinez has had high expectations throughout his career. When he arrived to the Dynamo in the summer of 2017, the expectations where that the team finally got a number 10 among the likes of other greats in the league at his position. On Sunday, we saw one of Martinez's better games with the Dynamo. As always, however, it's the consistency to do it game after game that will take the team to another level, and that's what still remains to be seen.


Dynamo player of the game: Alberth Elis

Next up:

Friday, April 19th at LA Galaxy (10:00 p.m. CT, Twitter/UniMas)

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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