DYNAMO GET FIRST THREE POINTS

5 quick kicks from Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact

5 quick kicks from Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact
Hometown talent Memo Rodriguez scored his fourth MLS goal in the 2-1 win over Montreal. Credit Manuel Gonzalez/Deporte Total USA.

The Houston Dynamo picked up their first three points of the season in a 2-1 win against the Montreal Impact at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mauro Manotas scored in his fifth-straight league game (dating back to last season) and also reached the mark of 50 goals across all competitions.

Here are five observations from Saturday's win:

1) First three points of the season

Victims of their own success, the Dynamo started the season with a congested schedule thanks to the added workload of playing in the Concacaf Champions League. That meant they would start the season two weeks earlier and have to balance the roster, playing their third match in eight days on Saturday.

Starting with zero points would not have been surprising. The Dynamo instead sit nicely with four points, a winning record through their first two games and all while managing several injuries as well.

2) Good when healthy

This one sounds like an obvious point but, as mentioned in the previous article, the Dynamo are very dependent on having a healthy roster. With "Kiki" Struna and Darwin Ceren back in the lineup, the team was much more solid defensively. With that ability to absorb pressure, the team can then transition into it's potent attack - which did much better than their previous two outings.

As of now, the Dynamo absences to account for are defender Erik McCue (left foot injury) plus midfielders Juan David Cabezas (right thigh injury) and Eric Bird (left ankle injury) - all listed OUT on the injury report. The team was also without midfielder Matias Vera and forward Ronaldo Peña who missed this match due to suspensions.

3) Homegrown talent steals the show

Manotas scored the game-winner but it was the 23-year-old El Campo, TX native Memo Rodriguez who scored the goal of the match. A rocket from outside the box nullified the Montreal goal that was scored just two minutes earlier.

The Homegrown talent - the most successful Academy product for the moment - has had nothing given to him through his up-and-down career, making Saturday's goal much sweeter for Dynamo fans who have rooted for his success.

It's only Rodriguez's fourth MLS goal and his second as a starter. More importantly, it's a reminder to the Manager that he has an option on the bench that merits more minutes on the pitch.

4) Looking ahead to Tigres

It's no secret that Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera wanted to give his team a chance to show their worth on Tuesday night in San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The Dynamo will travel down to the Monterrey area for next week's second leg in the quarter-finals of the Concacaf Champions League needing to make up a two-goal deficit.

Team Captain DaMarcus Beasley was rested for this game while Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto started the game on the bench. Tomas Martinez was subbed off in the 75th minute after missing the first leg. All of these names are expected to feature in the starting lineup against Tigres UANL.

The odds aren't in the Dynamo's favor but seeing their best up against a side like Tigres will be the best litmus test of what this team of young guns are capable of. We'll find out what they're made of on Tuesday.

5) Attendance still an issue

This one might be a common theme every week so get used to seeing it. The attendance for Saturday's match was 12,601 - at least 4,000 less than the season opener.

Whether the 4:00 p.m. kickoff helped or hurt is debatable. What's not debatable is the Dynamo's continued struggle to pull people in for games that don't feature big names. Next week, the team will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC with a 2:00 p.m. kickoff - the third time change in as many weeks.

Dynamo President of Business Operations John Walker may not have fully grasped the challenge that he would take on when he was introduced to the Houston club last November. He has said the right things in his first few months but how he deals with this issue is what will show if he was the right man for the job.

Dynamo player of the game: Mauro Manotas

Who else? The talisman for the Dynamo was having a quiet night until his goal in the 86th minute decided the result. His appearance on the scoresheet earned the team a point last week and three points this week. He'll be responsible for a lot more as the season goes on and that's why the team recently rewarded him with a three-year contract extension.

Next up:

Tuesday, March 12th at Tigres UANL, Concacaf Champions League quarter-finals second leg (10:00 p.m. CT, YahooSports.com/Univision Deportes)

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It's not time to panic, yet. Composite Getty Image.

This is not a column for fanboys or sugarcoating. To this point in the season the Astros stink like rotten eggs. They stink like Angel Hernandez’s umpiring. They stink like Bill O'Brien's general manager skills. The Astros are a bad team right now. That’s notably different from being a bad team. Their 4-10 record is well-earned and it is definitely possible that the Astros’ run of high quality and annual playoff appearances crashes and burns this season. But it’s laughable to declare so after just 14 games of the 162 scheduled have been played.

Last June the Astros had a lousy window in which they went 3-10. In August they had a 4-8 funk. In September it was a 3-9 stretch of collapse. The 2022 World Series Champions had a 3-8 hiccup in April, and a 2-6 blotch overlapping July and August that included getting swept in a three-game series by the then and now awful Oakland A’s.

Now the Astros are back home (Oh No!) for six games, three vs. the Rangers then three with the Braves. The Rangers lead the American League West but are just 7-6, so despite their cellar-dwelling status, the Astros are just three and a half games out of first. A winning homestand is obviously the goal. No, really. 3-3 would be ok, even though that would just about clinch a losing record heading into May.

Mandatory aside: spectacular weather is the Friday night forecast. Stop being stubborn and lame, Astros. Open the roof! I don’t mean just for the postgame fireworks.

On the mend?

The Astros’ track record of downplaying pitching injuries that turned out to be major certainly causes angst as we await Framber Valdez’s return from a sore elbow. If Valdez ultimately winds up out for months, the Astros’ starting rotation is in deep trouble. Even more so if upon the approaching delayed start to his season, 41-year-old Justin Verlander pitches to his age in terms of results and/or durability. However, if Valdez is ok within a month and JV is solid, those two, and Cristian Javier can stabilize the rotation quite nicely.

The Astros started three guys in Kansas City who belong in the minor leagues. It was a sad sign of the times that the Astros were reduced to calling up Blair Henley to make the start Tuesday. Except for Royals fans and Astros haters, it grew uncomfortable watching Henley give up four hits, walk three, record just one out, and wind up charged with seven earned runs. But it’s not Henley’s fault that he was thrust into a role for which he was utterly unqualified.

Last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, Henley’s earned run average was 5.06. Because of the crummy state of the Astros’ farm system, Henley failed up to Triple-A Sugar Land to start this season. After one not good start for the Space Cowboys, “Hey, go get out big leaguers Blair!” Henley turns 27 next month, he is not a prospect of any note. If he never again pitches in the majors Henley forever carries a 135.00 ERA.

But you know what? It was still a great day for the guy. Even if undeserved, Henley made “The Show.” For one day on the Astros’ 26-man roster, Henley made over four thousand dollars. To make him eligible for call up, the Astros first had to put Henley on their 40-man roster and sign him to a split contract. That means that until/unless the Astros release him, Henley’s AAA salary jumps from approximately $36,000 for the season to over 60K.

Lastly, while Henley’s ERA could remain 135.00 in perpetuity, at least he’s no Fred Bruckbauer. In 1961 Bruckbauer made his big league debut and bade his big league farewell in the same game. He faced four batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits and one walk. Career ERA: Infinity! Bruckbauer is the most recent of the more than a dozen pitchers to retire with the infinity ERA.

Spencer Arrighetti’s debut start went much better. For two innings, before it unraveled in a seven run Royals third. Arrighetti has good stuff, but not great stuff. Control has been an issue for him in the minor leagues. Without better command Arrighetti cannot be a plus starter in the majors.

Then there’s Hunter Brown. We could go decades without seeing another pitcher give up nine runs and 11 hits in two-thirds of an inning as Brown did Thursday. It had never happened in MLB history! To this point, Brown is an overhyped hope. ERA last July: 5.92, August: 6.23, September 1 on: 8.74. Three starts into 2024: 16.43.

Jose Abreu watch

It's still early enough in the season that even just a couple of big games can markedly improve a stat line but Jose Abreu continues to look washed up at the plate. Three hits in 37 at bats (.081 batting average), with the most recent hit a questionable official scoring decision. Manager Joe Espada has already dropped Abreu from fifth in the lineup to sixth, then seventh, then eighth. Two more slots down to go, Joe! Continuing to act like Jon Singleton could be a competent bat in the lineup is just silly, though.

Catch the weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week now generally goes up after Sunday’s game (second part released Tuesday, sometimes a third part Wednesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTubewith the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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