Houston 1, Portland 1

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 1-1 draw with Timbers FC

Courtesy Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo were held to a 1-1 draw by the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mauro Manotas opened the scoring for Houston in the 40th minute. Portland tied it in the 77th thanks to Liga MX's second top scorer for the Clausura 2019 season, Brian Fernandez, in his MLS debut.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) A missed opportunity

The Dynamo will lament dropping two points at home to a club that has never left Houston with a win. Add on top of that the detail that Portland has played its entire schedule, up to this point, on the road.

The Timbers should've been ripe for the pickings against a Dynamo that has been strong at home and had won every league match except one coming into this game. That non-win was a draw in the home opener against Real Salt Lake, nothing to get too worked up about as both teams were in early season form.

This draw will sting, however, because the Dynamo took the lead and had an opportunity to jump up to second place in the Western Conference standings. Clubs like D.C. United and Sporting KC, with an away game to Minnesota United sandwiched in between, are what's next on the schedule and Portland's performance will give away teams confidence to leave BBVA Compass Stadium with a positive result.

2) Beasley returns as part of lineup rotation

Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera made three changes from the starting XI at Seattle on Sunday. The lineup rotation is due to the team's schedule of three matches in a week.

The most notable of the changes was the return of DaMarcus Beasley at left back. The U.S. Men's National Team Legend and team captain had yet to play in league matches and was sidelined during the team's Concacaf Champions League elimination at Tigres UANL in March.

Aljaz "Kiki" Struna, one of the team's biggest offseason acquisitions, also returned to the starting XI being left out of the team that traveled to Seattle. Boniek Garcia also returned as a starter after featuring as a sub in the 1-0 away loss over the weekend.

3) Manotas the Timberslayer

Mauro Manotas now has seven regular season goals against Timbers FC, his highest against an MLS club. He's also enjoyed his only MLS hat-trick as well as an important playoff performance against Portland.

More to the context of this season, Manotas picked up his fifth goal to ascend as the team's top scorer. The Colombian continues his way towards another high scoring season as he complements the playmaking of Alberth Elis.

He scored with his chest which only further emphasizes his knack to find the back of the net no matter the fashion. He will be needed again on Sunday as D.C. United visit with one of the world's famed goalscorers in Wayne Rooney.

4) Dependence on Elis

As much as Manotas deserves praise for his goals with the Dynamo, it is Alberth Elis who has been the team's most valuable player. Elis has banked four goals and five assists.

Manotas himself has five goals and four assists but Elis would be missed more on the field if the team were to lose one of the two. Elis has been a player teams absolutely have to account for and, when he is contained - as we've seen in the two Dynamo losses this year and the draw on Wednesday, the team struggles to yield wins.

Nobody should be surprised that Elis has been the focal point of opposing defenses, it was expected. What is surprising is that the Dynamo have yet to respond to that strategy and punish teams for being asked to win without him - not to mention prepare in case of the Honduran's departure in the summer transfer window.

5) Big Joe with big saves

During Cabrera's tenure as the Manager of the Dynamo, the goalkeeper spot has always been up for debate and rotations at that position are not rare. Not this season.

Joe Willis has absolutely taken command of the spot both in league action and earlier in the team's Concacaf Champions League run. There is no question between his level of play and his backups.

The Dynamo would've dropped all three points at home without Willis on Wednesday. For that reason, he is the man of the match and an unspoken hero on the team sheet.

Dynamo player of the game: Joe Willis

Next up:

Saturday, April 18 vs D.C. United (7:30 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

ELIS INJURED IN COMEBACK WIN

5 kicks from Houston Dynamo's 2-1 win over D.C. United

Credit Trask Smith/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo withstood Wayne Rooney's D.C. United plus an injury to star player Alberth Elis on their way to their seventh win of the season. El Campo native Memo Rodriguez and off-season signing Thomas McNamara scored in the 67th and 68th minutes, respectively, to lead the club to a comeback victory.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Call it a comeback

HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United | May 18, 2019 youtu.be

Both the Dynamo and D.C. United were undefeated this season in matches where they took the lead first. Houston's record was 1-1-2 when giving up the first goal.

On Saturday night, they didn't need to rely on the advantage of opening up the scoreline. Wayne Rooney scored the match's first goal right after the start of the second half before the Dynamo turned on the pressure in attack.

Perhaps the most impressing part of the result was doing it without the wide threats of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto on the field. Instead it was their substitutes, coincidentally, that drove home the victory.

2) Winning without Elis

Alberth Elis took a headbutt to the side of his skull at the start of the match when he and D.C. United defender Steve Birnbaum jumped to dispute a ball in the air. Both players were taken out to the sidelines to get checked, Birnbaum had his head taped after bleeding, and were eventually allowed to return.

It would be minutes later that Elis asked for his substitution, which came in the 11th minute, and was subsequently taken to the locker room for a further evaluation. Despite passing the MLS concussion protocol, the Honduran playmaker wasn't well enough to continue the match.

Elis has been the most influential player for the team this season and a win without him will be a confidence booster. The big question now will be how long the team will be without one their most important contributors.

3) Memo leads the way

An inspired Memo Rodriguez was key to the Dynamo overturning the deficit at home, helping the team avoid a three-match winless streak. The homegrown midfielder took the responsibility of providing a spark in attack by creating his own shooting opportunity.

His goal in the 67th minute injected energy into the crowd at BBVA Compass Stadium and into his team. The Dynamo quickly went for another score and got it just a minute later.

With five goals and two assists, Rodriguez is enjoying his best season for the club. He'll likely pass his career high for minutes played in one season during the first half of the following match - eight games sooner than what it took him to reach that mark last year.

4) A win for Maynor

Defender Maynor Figueroa missed Saturday's match due to his father's passing on Wednesday night. The Honduran defender was on the field for the Dynamo against Timbers FC when the news broke in his home country.

The club showed solidarity with the seven-year Premier League veteran by dedicating the match to him in their pregame team photo. Figueroa joined the team in the off-season after three years at rival FC Dallas and has appeared in the majority of the Dynamo starting lineups this year.

Alejandro Fuenmayor took Figueroa's place in Saturday's starting XI and is expected to continue until Figueroa's return. The Dynamo have two league games left before this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, a tournament Figueroa is expected to feature in for Honduras.

5) Rooney draws crowd but no sellout

Manchester United and England National Team Legend Wayne Rooney was in town with D.C. United. His appearance, unfortunately for the Dynamo, did very little for the gate in comparison to the visits of other league draws like LA's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Several Manchester United jerseys were seen in what was announced to be a crowd of 15,811 attendees at the 22,000 capacity stadium. That number is only the third highest crowd seen this year after the opening match and the derby against FC Dallas.

The three-time World Cup veteran and former UEFA Champions League winner held up his end with a goal in the 46th minute and, despite the loss, has helped D.C. to a top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Still, hope is bleak if a player of his stature has that little effect on the overall Houston soccer market - if they even knew he was in town.

Dynamo player of the game: Memo Rodriguez

Next up:

Saturday, May 25 at Minnesota United FC (7:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57) [ESPN+ for U.S. non-Houston markets]

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