Houston 2, Dallas 1

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas

Mauro Manotas scored a double in the Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over FC Dallas. Photo by Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo.

The good times roll on for the Houston Dynamo who sit top three in their conference, and top five in the overall MLS standings, after a 2-1 win over Texas rivals FC Dallas. Mauro Manotas scored twice in the victory that gives Dynamo fans bragging rights until the next Texas Derby match in August.

Here are five observations from Saturday's match:

1. Points keep coming at home

This one was close but, in the end, the Dynamo were able to take the full three points and better their home record to 5-0-1 (6-1-1 overall). The Dynamo have taken advantage of a favorable home-tilted schedule by picking up 16 of the team's 19 total points at BBVA Compass Stadium.

The win was also the team's fifth consecutive at home and, with the summer heat on it's way, there's no sign of that streak, or at least their six-match unbeaten streak, ending soon. From what we've seen through 10 weeks of MLS, there's no reason to think the Dynamo should falter to Portland, D.C. United or Sporting KC - the three opponents before the two-week Gold Cup break in June.

Still, there's no reason to let up or get overconfident considering the road-heavy second half of the season. Before their next home game, the Dynamo head to Seattle next weekend for a match they are not expected to win.

2. Disaster avoided in the final minutes

The Dynamo were in control for most of the match against FC Dallas. The final moments generated an 87th minute Dallas goal that narrowed the gap to 2-1 before an offside call in the 90+7 minute saved the Dynamo from a 2-2 result.

The biggest cause for concern from the Dynamo is that they haven't stomped on the throats of their opposition when given the chance. Four of the team's five wins at home have been by a margin of one goal with the only other being by two.

The team has shown opportunities to be more aggressive but have played more conservative - at least in the previous matches. This team has every opportunity to pose more danger, especially with the qualities of their three best attacking players, and their hesitation to do so is what hinders them from being one of the elite teams in the league.

3. Manotas record-chasing season rolls on

Manotas regained his confidence last week in the 2-0 win over Columbus and added two goals to this account. The first came off in the 20th off a penalty he shot with plenty of power to avoid being saved by FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.

The second goal comes on a transition play that saw the team go from defending a corner to extending their lead in the matter of seconds. His simple touch, one with conviction, was a perfect display of the confidence he has regained after going quiet for a few games in terms of goals.

This performance puts Manotas back on track of fulfilling one of the goals set in preseason - to become the club's all-time leading scorer. He could very well reach Brian Ching's record by the end of the year and he plans to do so sooner rather than later as he alluded to post-game:

"I want to break whatever records I have left this year and that has to do with the amount of goals I score. I hope to continue doing that and leave my footprint on the team at the end of the year."

4. Memo gets first game-winning assist

Midfielder Memo Rodriguez picked up his second career assist when he set up Mauro Manotas for the Dynamo's second goal in the 58th minute. The homegrown from El Campo, TX is playing his best soccer in a Dynamo jersey and continues to added his first game-winning assist to his list of accomplishments.

Rodriguez has shown his drive after being considered for only 645 league minutes in 2018. The 23-year-old has taken full advantage of Romell Quioto's absence due to injury and stated his case to be one a starter.

His qualities are different from Quioto, he doesn't have the speed (few do) to be elusive so his game consists more of controlling the ball and setting up his teammates with precision. It remains to be seen how long the Manager will continue to start him with the return of Quioto but Rodriguez certainly gives the team a different element in attack, one that allows the team to breathe and pace themselves.

5. Quioto returns

Honduran forward Romell Quioto returned to the field after suffering a right knee injury during national team duty in the March FIFA International window. It was Quioto's fourth appearance this season (third off the bench) and first since the 3-2 win against Vancouver on March 16.

He almost bagged a goal two minutes after entering the match, which proceeded to be called offside. Even though he didn't appear on the score sheet, his return marks an immediate plus to the attack because of his unique speed.

Quioto's return gives the Dynamo two terrifying options for opposing defenses when both he and Alberth Elis are on the field. When one is out, the Dynamo just aren't the same team - nevertheless when both are unavailable.

Dynamo player of the game: Mauro Manotas

Next up:

Saturday, May 11 at Seattle Sounders FC (9 p.m. CT, KUBE 57)

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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