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)

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo broke a seven-match winless streak with a 2-0 win against Minnesota United FC on Wednesday night at BBVA Stadium. The win is the first at home since July 3 against the New York Red Bulls and the first victory in league play since July 20 at Toronto. The result also marked the first win under Interim Head Coach Davy Arnaud.

Here are five observations from the September 11 result on "First Responders Night."

1) A win long worth the wait

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy but it was a much needed result to break free from a bad spell. More so than ending a seven -match winless streak, it was about the team turning around a stretch that saw them winless in 17 out of their last 20 dating back to May. Yes, the Dynamo began the season undefeated in 7 of their first 8 matches - the best start in franchise history. Cool. Anybody who was being honest in their analysis knew the team benefited from a home-heavy schedule to start the season and that the most challenging part was on its way.

Before the start of Wednesday's match, the club had a record of 2-12-1 (W-L-D) since returning from the Concacaf Gold Cup break. It was a similar summer dismantling to what happened in 2018, except that had makeup applied to it in the form of a U.S. Open Cup title.

After the team's shortcomings failed to be addressed, the team began to head towards its fifth playoff absence in six seasons. What the future holds is still to be seen but at least, for one night, Dynamo supporters were rewarded with the sweet taste of victory.

2) Making the switch to a two-forward formation

The 4-2-3-1 formation that featured two wingers and a lone forward had run it's course. It stopped working for the Dynamo a few games back. Truthfully, it was always a formation meant to favor the two speedy wingers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. The results were always going to be less favorable once players without the characteristics of Elis and Quioto, i.e. Memo Rodriguez, Tommy McNamara, etc., began to be inserted.

For whatever reasons, Davy Arnaud continued some of the habits of previous manager Wilmer Cabrera. That included playing in the 4-2-3-1. Arnaud had switched to a 4-4-2 during his debut as the interim, where the team came back from 0-2 down to a dramatic 2-2 home draw. He opted not to repeat the two-forward lineup in the two matches after.

Whether being forced by circumstances (the potential sale of Mauro Manotas and the international FIFA break may have played a part), Arnaud finally went to a lineup that placed his two best attackers on the field: Mauro Manotas and Christian Ramirez.

The resulting win may be a coincidence of that change but the Dynamo looked their best under Arnaud's tenure as head coach.

3) Alejandro Fuenmayor features in first MLS match since June

The 23-year-old defender was one of the better additions to the team during the 2017/18 offseason. The Venezuelan even started in 21 of 22 matches, the sixth most starts on the team. This season, he fell out of favor with former manager Wilmer Cabrera and thrown into the doghouse.

Fuenmayor had featured in 429 minutes and five MLS matches prior to the encounter with Minnesota. It was as if he was played out of necessity for lack of other options. In the Leagues Cup match in late July against Liga MX side Club America and on Wednesday night, Fuenmayor showed why he is one of the better players on the roster.

What happened in the past is done. What happens going forward is in the club's control and, given the proof over the last two seasons, Alejandro Fuenmayor has to be part of the team's plan for the future and the present.

4) Joe Willis matches career-high for wins in a season

Goalkeeper Joe Willis has been one of the more solid performers this season despite the blunders everyone remembers from his performances at Cincinnati and at Philadelphia. He's been a workhorse for the Dynamo. With the win against Minnesota, he matched a career-high nine wins in a singular season and could reach double digits before the year is over.

5) Arnaud turns the corner

Time will tell if Davy Arnaud's interim tag will be removed. As of now, he's the leading candidate for the permanent head coaching job. The biggest benefit that was always going to come from him was the union of the locker room. Now with his first win in hand, Arnaud has five matches to prove why he deserves the gig.

Dynamo player of the game: Mauro Manotas

A game-winning goal and an assist for Manotas makes him the Man of the Match. In every period of turmoil throughout his time in Houston, Manotas has been one of the few voices that gives it to you straight and doesn't spit cliches. That's the same personality he goes on the field with and that's why he's one of the league's better goalscorers.

Next match:

Saturday, September 14 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57/TeleXitos 47.2)

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