HOUSTON 2, COLUMBUS 0

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC

Oscar Boniek Garcia (center) was honored for surpassing 200 appearances for the Houston Dynamo. Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston.

The Houston Dynamo got back to winning with a 2-0 result over Columbus Crew SC on Saturday. Mauro Manotas and Tomas Martinez were the goalscorers that helped the team rebound from their 2-1 away loss the previous week while the defense earned their first shutout of the year.

Here are five observations from the win:

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC | April 27, 2019 www.youtube.com

1) Home sweet home

With the win, the Dynamo extended their undefeated home record this season to a 4-0-1 mark. At 5-1-1 overall, five wins in the first seven matches is the fastest run to that mark in club history so the team has plenty to be happy and feel confident about.

In the bigger picture, it is important that the team is defending their home turf again. Their 12-1-4 home record in 2017 was key to their first playoff season in four years and it's no coincidence that they missed the playoffs last season after losing six matches at home - on top of their bad form on the road.

With four of the next six matches to be contested inside the friendly confines of BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo would have played more than half of their home schedule before the Gold Cup break in mid-June. That means that a heavy road schedule awaits the team on the other side including six out of eight over the course of a month between June 22 and July 20. The latter end of the schedule isn't any more forgiving so it's a good insurance policy to see the Dynamo rack up points here early.

2) First shutout of the season

Manager Wilmer Cabrera had expressed his desire to see his defense come away with a clean sheet earlier in the season. On Saturday, they delivered. Joe Willis came away with four saves and the defensive line of DeLaGarza, Struna, Figueroa and Lundqvist naturally look more confortable starting together in their fifth competitive match.

In this case, the shutout serves more for confidence and maybe goal differential later in the season as this Columbus team was no match for the Dynamo, even if they had pulled a goal back. The bigger test for the Houston defense will come when they face the league's elite attacking players and that's where the defense will earn their paychecks this year.

3) Manotas breaks scoring drought

The Dynamo's top goalscorer in 2018 came in to this match riding a four-match scoring drought. The Colombian wasn't an absentee in those games, rendering four assists in that stretch.

Ultimately, forwards will get judged for scoring goals and making impactful game-changing plays. In the previous game against LA Galaxy, the Dynamo's most challenging opponent this season, Manotas could not generate that type of moment and, in the match before that against San Jose, he missed a penalty. It's good to see him back on the scoresheet but the best of the young Colombian is yet to be seen, especially if he wants to be called up to the Colombian national team.

4) Martinez becoming elite?

EVERY ANGLE: Martinez's strike vs. Crew SC www.youtube.com

Tomas Martinez put up a team-high 13 assists in 2018 but, just by the eye-test, he looks more engaged this season. Reaching double digit assists isn't exactly a given but it is the standard for the team's no. 10. More importantly, he looks more confortable with better support behind him in defense.

Martinez still has another level to reach and it's still to early to say how much improvement he will make this season. If he is able to replicate the type of success we have seen from some of the league's best midfielders like Portland Timbers' Diego Valeri or even D.C. United's Luciano Acosta, the Dynamo would gain another dimension in attack that would really put them in business. Easier said than done, however, but there's definitely some positive signs.

5) Boniek celebrated for 200 appearances

Longtime Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia was celebrated right before kickoff for passing the mark of 200 games played with the club across all competitions (reached two weeks ago against San Jose). The 34-year-old has featured in every MLS match for the team this season and all but one across all competitions.

Unsure of his status with the club before the beginning of last season, Boniek has continued to provide the team with solid performances in midfield. He has undoubtedly stayed in the good graces of the manager, which is no surprise, given how many matches he's featured in over Cabrera's three season tenure - further showcasing the trust held in the Honduran legend.

How much longer can Boniek contribute to the club at this level? His professionalism and the way he's taken care of his body show no signs of that being anytime soon. Another 200 appearances may be too much to ask, however.

Dynamo player of the game: Joe Willis

Next up:

Saturday, May 4 vs FC Dallas (3 p.m. CT, Twitter / Univision)

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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