Third Loss under Arnaud

5 Kicks: Manotas scores but Houston Dynamo fall 2-1 at Vancouver

Courtesy of Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo fell back to second-to-last place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday night at BC Place. Mauro Manotas struck for the second consecutive match but it would not be enough as fellow Colombian Fredy Montero notched a 90th minute winner for the Caps.

Here are five observations from the match:

1) A winnable game

Despite Whitecaps FC coming into this match two weeks removed from their last MLS match, the Dynamo were looking at a possibility of picking up their first three points ever in Vancouver. The Canadians simply haven't looked great and that's a big reason why they are still the last place team in the West.

Houston had plenty of opportunities early on with Tommy McNamara missing a golden chance in just the fourth minute of play. The team ended up out-shooting the Whitecaps 18-6 throughout the entire match but they lacked the quality to punish in the final third.

For a team that has been poor on the road (Dynamo have a combined 5 away wins since 2017), this was a great opportunity to pick up a road win.

2) Hard done by a handball

The definition of a handball changed in an update to the Laws of the Game earlier this year. As a result, referees have interpreted the rule to the letter of the law because the evaluation of a "deliberate" handball has been removed.

In this case, the referee awards the penalty even after going to the video review booth. The Dynamo were on the other side of a VAR decision on Wednesday when a Minnesota goal was annulled after video review.

Ultimately, the Dynamo could've avoided the entire controversy by putting their chances away and putting this match out of reach.

3) Manotas scores again

There's not much more that can be said about Dynamo leading scorer Mauro Manotas. Once again, he was well positioned to jump on an opportunistic chance to score. The improvement to his game can only come as he evolves into a scorer that can create his own chances more consistently. Other than that, he's been one of the Dynamo's top players for the past few years.

4) Late goal defeat

Fredy Montero, one of the better scorers in the history of the league, was on a goal drought since June. He ended that drought with a 90th minute winner, taking advantage of a Jose Bizama who put out his worst performance in a Dynamo jersey.

Late goal defeats are probably up there with anything else you'd describe Dynamo play in this decade. Add another to the list.

5) Arnaud's progression continues to be slow

It was always going to be a though ask for Davy Arnaud to provide a complete 180-degree change and make a charge for the playoffs. In his five games in charge, Arnaud has reinvigorated the locker room with a bit of confidence. He has also taken more of a safety net approach and not rushing to make drastic changes in his lineups and during matches.

Dynamo player of the game: Maynor Figueroa

Figueroa's strike from created the clearest opportunity for the Dynamo. It is that type of initiative that get teams back into this type of match. The Honduran national team captain has injected an impact of leadership and is fearless when he is on the field. Signed in the offseason for an annual salary of $70,250.00, Figueroa has been every bit worth every penny and, undeniably, a steal.

Next match:

Saturday, September 21 vs. Orlando City SC (9:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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