HOUSTON 4, COLORADO 1

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, 2019 www.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)

The U.S. Women's National Team look to defend their FIFA Women's World Cup title and become back-to-back champs.

The Summer of Soccer is underway with the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, UEFA Nations League and international friendlies all part of the schedule this past weekend. The action is about to kick into another gear with the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup and South America's Copa America this week. Here is the week in soccer:

FIFA Women's World Cup

The premier women's international soccer competition kicked off in France with a 4-0 win by the hosts last Friday to open the competition. France is one of the favorites, and pressured to win, due to their role as the home team. The French women are also looking to match their male counterparts that became World Cup champions last summer at Russia 2018.

Germany, another of the favorites, opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over China while 2011 Champions and 2015 Runners-up Japan were held to a scoreless draw against what could be a Cinderella team in Argentina. England and Scotland faced off for the first time at the World Cup, men or women's, with the Lionesses winning 2-1 while potential dark horse Canada picked up a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

The defending champion United States joins the fray on Tuesday (2:00 p.m. CT, FOX) in what will likely be a multiple goal clinic against Thailand. For all the basics on the Women's World Cup, check out this article.

UEFA Nations League

The first ever Nations League, an attempt to get rid of "meaningless" international friendlies, looks to have been a rousing success and it could not have finished in a better way in terms of garnering media attention. European football's golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal, the current European champions, to a second European title in three years with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.

Concacaf Gold Cup

The biannual tournament to determine the champion of North America, Central America and the Caribbean - the region governed by Concacaf - kicks off on Saturday. The United States enter as the defending champions but it is Mexico, the nation with the most titles in the competition, who enter as the favorites to win it all.

Mexico fared well with a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela in Atlanta on Wednesday followed by a 3-2 win over Ecuador on Sunday up in Arlington, TX. The United States enter with doubts after a 0-1 loss to Jamaica in Washington D.C. and a 0-3 loss to Venezuela in Cincinnati.

CONMEBOL Copa America

South America also has a tournament kicking off this weekend in the revered Copa America. Hosts Brazil are always in the spotlight because of their star-studded squad and will be expected to win despite losing Neymar to injury this past week. Of course, as it has been for several editions now, the main storyline will be if Lionel Messi can finally lift a trophy with Argentina. With what many consider as the best in the world (and best all-time by others) in his prime, the time seems now or never for Messi to conquer the quadrennial tournament as well of the hearts of his country - and what a story it would be to do it on rival turf.

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