DYNAMO CONTINUE GOOD START

5 quick kicks from Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

Alberth Elis (left center) played a part in all three Dynamo goals against Whitecaps FC. Photo by Diego Dlouhy/SportsMap Houston.

The Houston Dynamo picked up their second win of the season with a 3-2 result over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday afternoon. Homegrown midfielder Memo Rodriguez scored his first MLS double, building on his MLS Goal of the Week performance last week, to help the team improve to a 2-0-1 record.

Here are five observations from the win:

1) Got the three points

Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps | HIGHLIGHTS - March 16, 2019 www.youtube.com

This was a back-and-forth match that could've gone to either side. While Vancouver didn't generate half of the Dynamo's opportunities, they certainly did enough to scare Houston with the goals they scored in each half.

Vancouver winger Lass Bangoura entered at the beginning of the second half to reignite the offense for the Canadians, tying the game at 2-2 in the 54th minute. Alberth Elis, who was vital in the Dynamo's first goal, assisted Rodriguez on the game-winning goal in a play that relied heavily on his speed to outrun Whitecaps midfielder Victor Giro. Vancouver would keep pressing to tie the game but the Dynamo outlasted them to get the win.

To get seven points (out of nine possible) to start the season is great during any year but credit to the Dynamo for doing so with the added schedule of the Concacaf Champions League, an obligation that has seen them play a total of seven games in the last month. It's the best start so far from an MLS CCL participant this season and, while they've yet to face any of the league's heavy-hitters, it's a noteworthy feat.

2) Memo and Lundkvist state their case for more minutes

Memo Rodriguez was ticked off on his way to the team bus after Tuesday's 1-0 loss at Tigres UANL where he didn't feature despite scoring the MLS Goal of the Week last Saturday vs. Montreal. The 23-year-old only used it as fuel and showed up with two goals this week, stretching his case for more minutes after playing only 1,050 in his previous two seasons combined.

Adam Lundkvist, the club's third-highest earning player in 2018, put forth a good performance in that match against Tigres after subbing in the 20th minute due to a DaMarcus Beasley injury. He fared well, making his case to challenge the four-time FIFA World Cup veteran for the starting job. With Beasley out due to a knee injury, Lundkvist got the start and was heavily involved in the offense - posting a team-high seven crosses.

3) Alberth Elis back on the prowl

One of the stars of the team, Alberth Elis, had his best performance of 2019 by far. It was a good sight for Dynamo fans and one that was due after the Honduran forward's quiet start to the season. Elis is expected to be one of the catalysts of the Dynamo offense but had only generated six shots through the team's six matches in Concacaf Champions League and MLS combined. On Saturday, Elis looked more like the version of himself that started 2017 with eight goals and five assists in the first 12 games - catapulting him to a 2017 MLS All-Star appearance.

"La Panterita" (the little panther) along with teammates Romell Quioto and Maynor Figueroa will join Honduras for an international friendly against Ecuador on March 26 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

4) Midfield holds up

One of the big questions coming into 2019 was how the team would fare if midfielder Juan David Cabezas was sidelined again. JDC was a big part of the Dynamo's success in 2017 and his absence last season was felt in the standings. After just one game this season, Cabezas is injured again and his return is unknown. Argentine Matias Vera, one of the team's key offseason acquisitions, has fared well and has obviously given the team the important depth it was lacking at that position. What remains to be seen is how they are tested against better opposition or more challenging situations - like going on the road, which they'll do for their next match. For now, it's so far so good for the Houston Dynamo.

5) The attendance issue

Saturday's announced attendance for Houston vs. Vancouver was 13,549 - bringing the season average for MLS matches up to 14,641 per match. In an interview after the match, Houston Dynamo President John Walker said the following:

"We know we have a ways to go to actually do that but it's been sort of a steady decline over the last several years...We're trying to reach out to some of our past fans in ways that we haven't reached out to them before. It's really about building relationships with the fanbase and, third, the magic bullet there is for the team to play well - and they're playing well so that on its own should build some momentum. It'll be work in progress. It'll take us a couple of years to build the base back up but we feel good about the things that we have in place."

Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera added that the team is doing their part by providing results on the field but that is as much as the coaches and players can do.

Dynamo player of the game: Alberth Elis

"La Panterita" was all over the field on Saturday, taking part in all three Dynamo goals. He assisted the two Memo goals and drew the foul for the penalty and converted it. The question, long-term, will be consistency as the Honduran had a great start to 2018 but flared out as the season went on.

Next up:

Saturday, March 30th at Colorado Rapids (8:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

The Dynamo have no game this week thanks to the FIFA break that sees leagues worldwide take a pause for international fixtures. BBVA Compass Stadium will see action during this window with the U.S. Men's National Team hosting Chile on March 26.

Credit: Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo broke a seven-match winless streak with a 2-0 win against Minnesota United FC on Wednesday night at BBVA Stadium. The win is the first at home since July 3 against the New York Red Bulls and the first victory in league play since July 20 at Toronto. The result also marked the first win under Interim Head Coach Davy Arnaud.

Here are five observations from the September 11 result on "First Responders Night."

1) A win long worth the wait

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy but it was a much needed result to break free from a bad spell. More so than ending a seven -match winless streak, it was about the team turning around a stretch that saw them winless in 17 out of their last 20 dating back to May. Yes, the Dynamo began the season undefeated in 7 of their first 8 matches - the best start in franchise history. Cool. Anybody who was being honest in their analysis knew the team benefited from a home-heavy schedule to start the season and that the most challenging part was on its way.

Before the start of Wednesday's match, the club had a record of 2-12-1 (W-L-D) since returning from the Concacaf Gold Cup break. It was a similar summer dismantling to what happened in 2018, except that had makeup applied to it in the form of a U.S. Open Cup title.

After the team's shortcomings failed to be addressed, the team began to head towards its fifth playoff absence in six seasons. What the future holds is still to be seen but at least, for one night, Dynamo supporters were rewarded with the sweet taste of victory.

2) Making the switch to a two-forward formation

The 4-2-3-1 formation that featured two wingers and a lone forward had run it's course. It stopped working for the Dynamo a few games back. Truthfully, it was always a formation meant to favor the two speedy wingers Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. The results were always going to be less favorable once players without the characteristics of Elis and Quioto, i.e. Memo Rodriguez, Tommy McNamara, etc., began to be inserted.

For whatever reasons, Davy Arnaud continued some of the habits of previous manager Wilmer Cabrera. That included playing in the 4-2-3-1. Arnaud had switched to a 4-4-2 during his debut as the interim, where the team came back from 0-2 down to a dramatic 2-2 home draw. He opted not to repeat the two-forward lineup in the two matches after.

Whether being forced by circumstances (the potential sale of Mauro Manotas and the international FIFA break may have played a part), Arnaud finally went to a lineup that placed his two best attackers on the field: Mauro Manotas and Christian Ramirez.

The resulting win may be a coincidence of that change but the Dynamo looked their best under Arnaud's tenure as head coach.

3) Alejandro Fuenmayor features in first MLS match since June

The 23-year-old defender was one of the better additions to the team during the 2017/18 offseason. The Venezuelan even started in 21 of 22 matches, the sixth most starts on the team. This season, he fell out of favor with former manager Wilmer Cabrera and thrown into the doghouse.

Fuenmayor had featured in 429 minutes and five MLS matches prior to the encounter with Minnesota. It was as if he was played out of necessity for lack of other options. In the Leagues Cup match in late July against Liga MX side Club America and on Wednesday night, Fuenmayor showed why he is one of the better players on the roster.

What happened in the past is done. What happens going forward is in the club's control and, given the proof over the last two seasons, Alejandro Fuenmayor has to be part of the team's plan for the future and the present.

4) Joe Willis matches career-high for wins in a season

Goalkeeper Joe Willis has been one of the more solid performers this season despite the blunders everyone remembers from his performances at Cincinnati and at Philadelphia. He's been a workhorse for the Dynamo. With the win against Minnesota, he matched a career-high nine wins in a singular season and could reach double digits before the year is over.

5) Arnaud turns the corner

Time will tell if Davy Arnaud's interim tag will be removed. As of now, he's the leading candidate for the permanent head coaching job. The biggest benefit that was always going to come from him was the union of the locker room. Now with his first win in hand, Arnaud has five matches to prove why he deserves the gig.

Dynamo player of the game: Mauro Manotas

A game-winning goal and an assist for Manotas makes him the Man of the Match. In every period of turmoil throughout his time in Houston, Manotas has been one of the few voices that gives it to you straight and doesn't spit cliches. That's the same personality he goes on the field with and that's why he's one of the league's better goalscorers.

Next match:

Saturday, September 14 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57/TeleXitos 47.2)

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