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, 2019www.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 outingComing 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
.@alberthelis17 is too much 🔥🐾 #ForeverOrange https://t.co/vcZXZENTTv— Houston Dynamo (@Houston Dynamo) 1555262705.0
Friday, April 19th at LA Galaxy (10:00 p.m. CT, Twitter/UniMas)
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.