HOUSTON 4, COLORADO 1

5 quick kicks from Dynamo at Colorado Rapids

5 quick kicks from Dynamo at Colorado Rapids
Houston Dynamo supporters made the trip to Colorado to witness their team win their first away match of the season. (Photo by Jesus Zamorano/Houston Dynamo)

The Houston Dynamo picked up a 4-1 victory in their first away game of the season on Saturday night. The win improves the team's record to 3-0-1, keeping their undefeated start in league play intact, to provide the best start in franchise history.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Winning on the road

HIGHLIGHTS: Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo | March 30, 2019www.youtube.com

Anyone who has followed the team through the last few years knows well about the Dynamo's struggle to pick up points on the road. It's an abysmal record and one that has definitely played a part in the team's inability to make the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. To support that point further, the team only lost once at home in the only year of that stretch that they did make the playoffs.

While the Dynamo are certainly capable of providing another strong year at home, they will not want to depend on those results alone to define their season. Wins while playing away, especially to bad teams like Colorado, are opportunities that need to be maximized. On this occasion, they did and it only helps the team build confidence moving forward.

2) Undefeated start to the season

Another thing that can be taken away from the 2017 season, the only one where the Dynamo made the playoffs in recent years, is the strong start the team had that year. The Dynamo have fallen victim to not having a bigger sense of urgency early in other recent years and suffer for it later in the season. Last year, a strong start would have helped alleviate the summer workload that saw the team cave into a winless stretch of 10 straight games.

Now, the Dynamo have certainly benefited from an easy schedule to start 2019 but, to their credit, they've taken care of their business. Who they play is not in their control but eventually the team will have to face tougher competition. The schedule will get more complicated for them starting in May and going into the summer, when they will likely lose a handful of players to international competition. That is why this start is so important and why it may end up being key at the end of the year.

3) Elis the driving force behind the Dynamo

Alberth Elis has now contributed to the last seven of the team's 10 goals this season, including all four in Colorado on Saturday. His speed allowed him to get past defenders and cross the ball into the box, which has essentially become his trademark.

Run, pass, score, repeat was the formula on Saturday night and it worked so much that it ended up with the Rapids scoring on themselves on two occasions. When Elis plays well, the team thrives. Conversely, as it happened in the later part of last season, the team struggles when the Honduran doesn't provide that spark. The Dynamo have to ride this wave of good form, and a week of rest will do the team good to refresh their batteries before their next match in two weeks.

4) Homegrown Rodriguez continues hot streak

Memo Rodriguez, the Dynamo Academy product, picked up his fourth goal in as many matches in the 4th minute of the match. It's already his best season scoring and the 23-year-old shows no signs of stopping.

This run of form certainly gives him more leverage when the manager has to decide who to place in his starting XI. He may not have the speed that some of his peers have but he's certainly shown the skill and ability - and maybe more importantly, the drive to succeed. He's certainly a player to follow, especially to see how he himself fares against tougher competition as the season goes on.

5) Supporters make the trip to Colorado

What can never be understated is the support of the diehards like Texian Army and El Batallon. About a good dozen or two of Dynamo supporters made the trip to the Mile High City, some of them making the 16-hour drive from Houston.

I write a lot on here about the lagging attendance at home games but the never ending loyalty of the supporters groups is admirable. This season, they've followed the team to Guatemala, down to Mexico and now to the team's first away MLS match.

Dynamo player of the game: Alberth Elis

Next up:

Saturday, April 13th vs. San Jose Earthquakes (2:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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