Houston 2, Dallas 1
5 kicks from Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
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
Saturday, May 11 at Seattle Sounders FC (9 p.m. CT, KUBE 57)