Tag Archives: Mauro Manotas

Dynamo and Timbers Draw, 1-1, In Houston

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The Houston Dynamo and the Portland Timbers are two of the most intense clubs currently playing in MLS. Houston is an underrated squad on a hot-streak with a lot to prove, while Portland is an MLS late model flagship that had a rough start to the 2019 season, frantic to regain status.

When two groups like this meet, especially in the steamy humidity of a late spring Houston evening, tempers rise with the temperature and teams often play powderkeg matches just waiting for a spark.

The match was predictably physical, and the Dynamo once again showed off their offensive dominance in the first half. Portland’s defenders were pushing hard, but the Dynamo were relentless. The incessant Dynamo offense paid off in the 40th minute when Mauro Manotas scored his sixth goal of the season.

The Timbers’s number 4 defender, Jorge Villafaña, stuck to Houston’s Alberth Elis in the early part of the match with aggressive tactics I haven’t seen since the dance floor at my last college party. His handsy defense moved on to cover Boniek Garcia later in the half which would be the spark that this match was waiting for.

Of all of the players on the Dynamo roster, Oscar Boniek Garcia is known for his likability and consistently happy demeanor. The Honduran native is known to play with a smile on his face, so the early signs of hostility toward the Timbers were apparent to most fans around the stadium.

His usual sportsmanlike play was replaced with rough challenges and post-drop stare-downs. As the captain’s patience faded, the rest of the team seemed to match his mood and the play on the field began to show lots of strain.

Even the halftime break was not enough to cool tempers for the Portland or Houston players as the rough play continued with the start of the second half whistle.

At 50 minutes, after a tough challenge in the midfield left Dynamo player Tomas Martinez on the pitch, Portland denied to play the ball out while he recovered. This led to lots of words and more than a few shoves exchanged between several of the players, but no cards were issued as a result of the dust up.

Contentious matches like this one should be controlled by the officials, who can maintain fairness and hold players to a reasonable standard. In this match, the players and the match were in the hands of well-known referee Ted Unkel.

The eccentric officiating favored both and neither teams at different points in the match, and Unkel ultimately concluded the match with no radio after tossing it to the sideline late in the second half.

Portland leveled the match shortly after a 65th minute substitution brought on their recent Argentinian acquisition Brian Fernández, and the match concluded with the 1-1 draw. While both teams played desperately for all three points, I consider the match to be a lucky draw – the real win being both teams walking away with no serious injuries and no disciplinary suspensions.

The Dynamo’s depth will be tested again at their third match in eight days against D.C. United on Saturday at home.

Featured image: @HoustonDynamo

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Houston Gets 3 Points from Dallas in First Leg of Texas Derby

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Houston Dynamo beat FC Dallas 2-1.

Rivalry matches are their own kind of animal, and the Texas Derby is no exception. The first leg between the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas on Saturday had controversy and conflict that paled in comparison to the drama ahead of the match. I played into the narrative with the final lines of my last article, but the situation heated up over the week – sparking into a blaze on Thursday.

Ahead of this season, the front office announced the addition of a cannon in the stadium, perched above the supporters’ section. While it does allude to El Capitán, the oft-traded derby  trophy, this one is orange and will be a permanent fixture in Dynamo stadium.

The original article released about the cannon indicated that the FO would work with supporters to name the new cannon. At the home opener, it was announced that the cannon would be called “Ponce” after an amazing man and fan that the Dynamo family lost in 2016.

Thursday evening, Dallas’s Twitter account released an animation poking fun at Houston’s new cannon, implying that we had purchased our own replacement since El Capitán is currently being held outside of Dallas.

Houston fans were livid and responded quickly. Some reminded Dallas of their own habit of purchasing items that they hadn’t managed to earn, re-sharing a rivalry tweet that I have mentioned. Others called for Dallas to delete the tweet and scolded them for desecrating the tribute to our late friend.

After some initial pushback, Dallas did, in fact, delete the tweet and posted this apology.

The fire had started, however, and Houston fans came into Saturday’s match looking for vengeance.

It appeared that Houston spent much of its passion on the rivalry hype and had little left to bring onto the pitch. While they did dominate gameplay in the first half, the cohesion and finishing finesse that marked the team’s early success was missing.

Turnovers were plentiful, and even our penalty goal in the first half was the result of a lazy dive from Alberth Elis (that’s right, I said it!). The team’s second-half goal from Mauro Manotas was the only hint of the level of play that has been seen this year.

Dynamo fans’ fear of the last 10 minutes, where so many games were lost last season, returned as the final moments brought Dallas’s best efforts, the referee’s strangest moments, and near-tragedy for Houston.

Dallas’s Badji wiped out Houston’s clean sheet with a goal at 87’. Houston’s McNamara received a yellow card at 88’ which the ref reviewed randomly for 4 minutes. Houston defender Cabezas committed a silly foul at 96’ which Mosquera almost converted to a goal, had he not lined up for the free kick in an offside position.

The Dynamo were tied at 2-2 for a full minute before the goal was called back unceremoniously and we were able to walk away with the win. Regardless of how they were earned, we will take those three points and see Dallas again on their home turf in August.  

Featured image: @lesliecphotos

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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Still Unbeaten At Home, Houston Earns A Shutout

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Saturday, April 27: 2-0 win

The Houston Dynamo know a little bit about streaking, holding the league record for the longest unbeaten streak at home. Despite past success, the reality of most streaks in professional sports is that they will come to an end. Last week, the Dynamo’s winning start to their MLS season ended with a loss to the Galaxy, and the men in orange came into Saturday’s match against the Columbus Crew ready to begin their next unbeaten streak, and to keep their undefeated-at-home record intact.

From the first moments of the match, it was clear that the Dynamo’s early success was not a fluke. Houston came out strong, and Mauro Manotas scored in the third minute. This is not to say that the Crew did not bring a tough competition to Houston. I was impressed with the Crew’s defensive efforts. Alberth Elis’s usual trick of skipping the ball ahead of a defender and then shifting into a fast gear to catch up out of the defender’s reach was simply not enough, as the Crew’s Abubakar had the speed to answer this offensive tactic.

In fact, the Dynamo’s first goal from Mauro Manotas came off of a sloppy pass into the box from Elis as Abubakar was crowding back in. Manotas’s positioning was precise, but the fact that Elis was rushed meant that Manotas hadn’t had time to fully shake Columbus defenders Sauro and Trapp. When the three collided in front of the goal just behind the pass, Manotas was just able to get a foot on the ball to score a messy first goal.

The Dynamo’s offense was quick to recognize the need to shift and changed tactics. Their efforts paid off again in the 55th minute as Tomas Martinez was left all alone at the top of the penalty box with no defender pressing, a moment to think, and his amazing left foot. He loosed a rocket of a shot that flew over the defenders that had crowded in close to cover Elis and Manotas, doubling the Dynamo’s lead and securing their win.

Saturday’s matchup between the Dynamo and the Crew was much more than an offensive tale. The defenders on both sides were the real stories of the match. I’ve already discussed the Crew’s ability to shut down Houston’s offense, and alternately Houston was able to counter Columbus’s Zardes and their well-organized counters with talent and precision.

The Dynamo’s offseason effort to build up the depth in the defensive half was on display at BBVA Compass Stadium. Maynor Figueroa and Kiki Struna put forth great efforts, and around the hour mark when the Dynamo’s defenses started to get panicked and sloppy, Coach Wilmer Cabrera brought in Darwin Ceren who settled the line with some key defensive maneuvers right off the bench. Most importantly, goalkeeper Joe Willis achieved his first shutout of the season.


Houston’s forwards gather up the defensive line to celebrate their win against Columbus Crew.
Credit: Houston Dynamo twitter

The Dynamo play at home again next Saturday, when they  welcome rivals FC Dallas to Texas. Let the rival talk begin!

Featured image: CanchaTV

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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A Tale of Two Competitions

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

Throughout 2018, the Houston Dynamo battled scheduling and defensive injuries through both MLS and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competitions, shining a light on the lack of depth in the squad. In the end, the team failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs, but brought home the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

General manager, Matt Jordan, spent most of the off-season recruiting players that would improve depth, and the start of 2019 is putting his work to early tests. Juggling two competitions again – the CONCACAF Champions League as well as the MLS regular season – the Dynamo have started their 2019 with a grueling schedule, playing five games so far.

By the middle of March, the team and their fans will have pushed through seven matches over twenty six days – one match every three to four days.

The Dynamo’s second MLS match – against the Montreal Impact – on Saturday afternoon brought some of the biggest lineup changes from head coach, Wilmer Cabrera, to date. His usual switches are in the midfield and defensive lineups, always preferring to flank center forward Mauro Manotas with Honduran forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto.

While he has occasionally removed one or the other, this week’s lineup surprised fans with Elis and Quioto starting on the bench, replaced by attacking midfielders Marlon Hairston and Memo Rodriguez. This is a big switch in strategy for Cabrera that shows the increased levels of confidence in the shooting of Manotas, who is quickly climbing the ladder of all-time Dynamo goal scorers.

Photo by Leslie Chairez, Official Houston Dynamo Photographer for MLSFemale

The recipe of two true midfielders further up the pitch may beat the backline shake ups as the answer to the Dynamo’s defensive lapses, as they triumphed over the Montreal Impact 2-1. The Impact scored in the 34th minute and were quickly answered by a Memo Rodriguez goal at 36’.

The match held even through a long stretch, though the Dynamo offense dominated most of the match. Cabrera replaced the midfielders up front around the one hour mark, bringing in his Honduran forward team. The switch paid off, as Quioto snuck a pass to Manotas inside the box in the 89th minute for the game-winner.

Despite the Impact scoring first, the feeling of the match and the statistics tell a story of an offensive victory for the men in orange. The Dynamo doubled the Impact’s offensive stats in shots and corners (14:7 and 6:3, respectively) and absolutely owned the on-target shots – Montreal’s goal being their only on-target shot to the Dynamo’s six.

The Houston Dynamo must take the confidence won in this MLS match to the CCL this week, as they face the huge task of beating the Tigres by three goals in Mexico to move on. They turn quickly from an undefeated MLS squad to an underdog away team in a matter of moments so both players and staff will need to carry Saturday’s lessons and confidence into Universitario Stadium on Tuesday night.

And just as fast, win or lose, they switch focus again to face the Vancouver Whitecaps at home the following Saturday.

Featured image: Leslie Chairez // mlsfemale

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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