After suffering frustrations on the road, the Houston Dynamo returned home and dominated the (current) best team in MLS, Orlando City, dropping a ton of goals on the visitors. Mauro Manotas lead the line with a brace, while Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto chipped in one apiece for an overwhelming 4 – 0 win.
Like the San Jose Earthquakes before them, Orlando came into town on short rest, having played earlier in the week against Toronto FC. City lost against the MLS Cup Runner-up 2 – 1 before heading to Texas. With their third match in a hair over a week, head coach Jason Kreis rotated his lineup but couldn’t provide enough backup to prevent heavy legs. Scott Sutter and Danny Toia, both playing their third match in 8 days all fullback, didn’t have energy enough to keep up with the extremely pacey Honduran strikers. As a result Elis and Quioto had a field day all night long.
Despite the final scoreline, the game didn’t start off great for the Dynamo. Erick Torres was ruled out of the game after taking a nasty ball to the head in training earlier in the week. As per the league mandate, the Mexican striker has to go through the concussion protocols and will be closely monitored over the coming days. Eric Alexander suffered an injury just 9 minutes in after Canadian International Cyle Larin was shoved and fell on him. Ricardo Clark, whose minutes are being closely managed, was brought in and went the rest of the way. Manotas was brought down in the box a few minutes later but put the ensuing penalty kick wide of the goal, despite sending goalkeeper Joe Bendik the wrong way.
All the bad luck in the world didn’t deter the Dynamo, however. Elis isolated Toia and created some separation with a step-over outside of the box. With a pocket of space, Elis rifled a shot that deflected off of Bendik and into the net for the opening goal in the 23rd minute. After the opening goal, the rest of the half went back and forth as Orlando attempted to get back into the game while they still had gas in the tank. Joe Willis, getting another start over Tyler Deric, kept the defense organized in the half but didn’t have to come up with a save.
The second half was a different story as City became more desperate to get at least a point. This only played into Wilmer Cabrera’s tactics.
In the 51′, Alex brought the ball down the right flank and cut into the box. He squared the ball to an unmarked Manotas who one-timed his shot right at Bendik. Somehow the goalkeeper wasn’t able to control the ball well enough and it rolled past him and into the net. It was the second goal that the normally reliable goalkeeper allowed to deflect off of him. To be fair, the Colombian striker blasted his shot from near point-blank range, giving Bendik little time to get behind the shot. Instead all he was able to do was put his hands out and deflect the shot. And a moment on Alex: the Brazilian is having a career year. Throughout his previous five seasons in the league, he had 11 goals and 4 assists. In just 9 games this season, Alex has 6 assists and shows no signs of slowing down. With the quartet of Torres, Quioto, Elis and Manotas, he will have plenty of chances to increase that total. It’s unlikely that he will be able to match the 5 goals he scored last season due to playing a deeper roll in Cabrera’s 4-3-3 formation but his craftiness and ability to find his teammates will serve the team well the rest of the way.
Down 2 goals, City started to put the Dynamo on their heels and the team was content to lure them into their half. With some well time tackles, Houston sprung their patented counter attack and repeatedly caught Orlando’s defense high up the field. The third goal came when Quito ran on the counter. He picked his head up and saw a wide open Manotas in the middle of the box. The Colombian almost overran the ball but was able to settle it in time before an on-rushing Bendik could close all of his options. Instead, Mauro rolled it past the goalkeeper to nab his brace.
Ten minutes later, Manotas returned the favor by finding Quioto up the field. After settling the pass, the Honduran International blasted his shot from the top of the box, giving Bendik no chance.
The truly crushing reality of the game for City was that the Dynamo offense could have easily had scored another goal or five. If not for some nice saves from Bendik and some bad luck, this could have been the kind of rout that NYCFC is still trying to recover from. Without energy to keep up with the run-and-gun style of Houston, as well as missing their talismanic center back Jonathan Spector, on top of an off game from Bendik, they didn’t have much of a chance.
Both Houston and Orlando have been very strong at their respective homes but have tripped up on the road so far. If either one wants to get to the top of their conference, they’ll have to figure out how to get results away from the comforts of home. The Dynamo won’t have to deal with that fact for another week, though, as they host Vancouver Whitecaps. City returns home to lick their wounds against the tough-as-nails Sporting KC defense.
The long-standing road woes of the Dynamo have to be addressed fast, though. After their game against the ‘Caps, Houston doesn’t have back-to-back home games until late August, early September. In fact during the summer, the Dynamo only have 5 home games while being on the road for 11, including the upcoming three game swing through the East.
Who was your Man of the Match? Are you glad Cabrera went back to the more offensive 4-3-3? Does this summer’s road trip worry you? Think the Dynamo will be able to keep their momentum going and be relevant? Will Mauro overtake Torres as the lead striker for the offense? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comment section below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook at KeeperNotes.