Well what do I know about predictions? Instead of a tight game, the Houston Dynamo put in their first complete performance of the season as Cubo Torres scored a hat trick to lead the team to a 4 – 1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
The visitors were the first to get on the board with a goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 13th minute. After Mauro Manotas was stripped of the ball in the middle of the field, the Bulls were quick on the counter. BWP found a pocket of space between Jalil Anibaba and Dylan Remick and slotted his shot past Tyler Derick. It was poor defending all around from the defense as BWP ghosted along the defensive line. Also credit to Felipe for the tackle and Sacha Kljestan with the perfectly weighted pass.
Fortunately it didn’t take long for the team to make up for their mistake. On a short corner just a minute later, Alex sent a perfectly weighted ball into the box that found Remick just outside the six yard box. He headed home the ball for his first goal for the Dynamo, and indeed in MLS. There’s no better way to make up for a mistake than to score a goal.
Unfortunately the first half was dragged down with crunching tackles, players being run over and other physical plays that weren’t called by the referee. It seemed destined that someone would get sent off as the physicality was ramped up, or injured but the referee crew did a much better job of wresting control of the match back in the second half. Though there was plenty of controversy still.
Within minutes of the opening whistle, Cubo was run over by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and no penalty was given. Fast forward to minutes before the half and Manotas makes a fantastic run into the box, getting past two defenders before being brought down by Damien Perrinelle, in for the injured Aurelien Collin. Replays show that the call was borderline. Torres stepped up and blew his shot past a diving Robles.
If fans were nervous about the second half, they’d have every right to be. Keeping up the momentum has been difficult for Houston but not this time. They started the second half just as they left the first and put the Red Bulls under constant pressure. Houston had 17 shots, with 10 of them on target. A big piece of that offense came in the great runs of Manotas. The young Colombian repeatedly dribbled at the defense and often found his way around them. This created several goal scoring opportunities off of set pieces and the run of play.
It wasn’t a complete performance from Houston, however. BWP had a goal waved off for offsides while young Derrick Etienne, Jr, proved to be a handful, missing a header from point blank range that he’ll want back. Tyler Deric had an amazing save late in the game to keep the Dynamo on top.
Cubo’s second goal will long be talked about and debated. In the 56′, Manotas makes another incisive run and blast a low shot that Robles parries well. After collecting the ball, Torres curls the shot into the net, though Robles gets his fingertips on the ball. The controversy comes from Andrew Wenger. The striker was in front of the goalkeeper, though some feet between them. As the ball comes in, he ducks out of the way. Was it interference, passive offsides? Tough to say. Much like the penalty called in the previous half, this could have gone either way.
His final goal came in stoppage time after Torres was fouled on top of the d. Alberth Elis, in for Wenger, was on the edge. Unlike an earlier goal this year, where Elis ran to create an opening for Cubo to score, the Mexican striker curled the ball over the wall and past a diving Robles to complete the hat trick.
And yes, Cubo collected his well-earned hat after the game.
Alex continued his great form, adding another assist to his name. The Brazilian has been on fire, leading the team with 4 assists. Ricardo Clark and Eric Alexander did well to hold down the fort in the middle, though it should be noted that Clark had to come off with an injury in the 59th minute. Wenger had a solid outing, though his passive offsides will overshadow his goal that was waved off earlier in the game.
Oh and as of this writing, Cubo leads MLS with 6 goals so far and Houston is tied for the lead in the Western Conference, third overall (on tie-breakers). Not a bad first month.
Next up, Houston travel to Boston to face the New England Revolution before returning home for their first ever match up against Minnesota United. The Red Bulls head down to Orlando before beginning a lengthy home stand that begins with their arch rivals, DC United.
Which goal of Cubo’s was your favorite? Do you think Wenger interfered with Robles? Impressed with the midfield’s ability to (mostly) keep Kljestan and company quiet? How do you think Wenger and Manotas did? Enough to challenge Elis and Romell Quioto for minutes? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter and Facebook @KeeperNotes.