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

Houston Dynamo Senior Vice President/General Manager Matt Jordan addressed questions from fans during the first hour of Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis on Tuesday night. Among the topics of conversation were potential player signings, concerns with player development and club operations.

The following are excerpts from the Q&A with callers to the program:

Potential Transfers

On why the Dynamo has not gone after a big name player that can fill BBVA Stadium

We're very open and we have had discussion with "big name players" ... For us, it's about getting the right players and I truly believe, through my experiences, you also have stars that grow within the league. We've seen that with our team with Alberth Elis, with Mauro Manotas - from my time in Montreal, we saw that with Ignacio Piatti. These weren't "big name stars" but they became "big name stars" so we look at all of it. We look at making our own stars, we look at some players that have been on the biggest stages and maybe a bit older but, for us, it's analyzing what's the right fit.

On the suggestion of a player like Mexico National Team Captain Andres Guardado

A lot of fans will say, "bring a big name, a Messi or Ronaldo" and that's not always realistic in the world of soccer but those are the types of profiles we do continue to look at along with making our own stars as well, which I think we've done a good job of with the two players I mentioned, who are stars in the city of Houston now.

On the reports of Cruz Azul's interest in Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas

We're getting interest in a lot of our young talented players. The two players that everyone talks about is Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis, there's also a handful of other players that we get inquiries of from abroad. A lot of the teams in the Mexican league follow our teams very closely and Cruz Azul did express interest in Mauro... [a potential transfer] has to make sense for the player, it has to make sense for the club

Player Development

On the investment in the Houston Dynamo Academy

With the support of our ownership group, over the last 18 months, have made significant investments in the academy. We hired a new academy director in Paul Holocher, we brought on what I believe are some of the brightest young coaches in the Unites States. We've really worked very hard to strengthen our partnerships and our strategic alliances here within the city of Houston, which I believe has really been a downfall of ours in the past.

On the possibility of having a locally-based USL team

We have. One thing I can tell you, we have our USL players, our academy players, our U23 players in and out with the first team all the time. With the Open Cup, we brought up several of our USL players. You'll see a couple of our USL players come up for our League's Cup game as well... of course, it's more ideal to have it next to our first team field but we're very proud of the partnership in the [Rio Grande] Valley.

Club Policies

On the Dynamo's scouting system for recruiting players for the first team...

We do have a scout in Europe that's paid by us, we have a scout in South America that's paid by us and I also have a full-time scout and analyst, here, that is in Houston working with us in our recruitment department.

What we do is we go through the annual scouting calendar, we prioritize what events we need to hit. Generally speaking, I only travel when we get to the point - myself or [Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera] or both of us together, a lot of time we'll travel together in the offseason. We only really travel when we get to [final stages of a transfer].

We use our regional contacts...What I really focus on is having one key contact in each country and, a lot of times, we go after the player, it's not that the player is presented to us by the agent. [Recent signing Jose Bizama] is a prime example, we went after Bizama and we approached the club through our process. Now, there's times where a player is presented to us as well, but more often then not we utilize those regional contacts in each country. There's a lot of times, with many of our players, we've identified them or we've gone after them when they're, maybe, not for sale and that's when the grinding starts to take place for the negotiation.

On the club hosting a town hall meeting with supporters

In this moment, I can't speak for ownership but I have no problem being in any setting and fielding questions about the team for the fans.

---

The entire conversation is available on the July 16, 2019 episode of the podcast, which can be heard on iTunes, Google Podcasts and www.podcastarena.com/soccermatters/

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