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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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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