Tag Archives: Wilmer Cabrera

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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For the Houston Dynamo, It’s Time

Official Houston Dynamo Reporter

By Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne

The off-season for the Houston Dynamo seemed short, especially for a team that didn’t make the MLS playoffs. In November, the Dynamo hired a new President of Business Operations, John Walker. He came in ready to listen to fans and made both bold and genuine gestures to prove that he truly wanted to hear from us.

However, his commitment to this process took time. The organizational changes seemed to push back a lot of the typical off-season fluff that carries us through the fallow time. Rumors of kit sponsors, signings and other potential moves sat pending for days and weeks. As off-season became pre-season, at least one fan assumed they missed the kit launch and hit up the team store for a new jersey—only to be informed that it hadn’t yet been unveiled.

For the team, our pre-season was wrought with inconsistencies—wins, losses, red cards, and Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s continuing habit of changing lineups and even player positions for every match. We have a great mix of veteran and young players with experience all over the globe, but fans are never sure who will turn up or where.

But our first test came this week when the Houston Dynamo met Guastatoya in Guatemala for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL). Our starters were the token Cabrera expected surprise. Still, as a group of nearly 50 supporters met in a bar across the street from our stadium, we were primed for the match, ready for anything, and hungry for victory.

What came next was every soccer fan’s dream. My family has an often-repeated line that we found on Twitter last year. In response to a tweet by Andrew Wiebe about fouls against MLS teams in last year’s CCL, @andrewsorg responded, “Do you even #CONCACAF, bro?” This has become our shorthand in rough matches to remind us that the beautiful game comes along with grit and guts, that fouls happen, and that the real match comes when the teams want a victory and fight hard for it.

And, yes, we CONCACAFed. We fought hard, and our defense was relentless, never backing down from Guastatoya’s advances. Our offense found a fluidity that challenged past the Guatemalans’ defense. The teams were scoreless through the 80th minute, and Dynamo fans held their collective breath.

In the 2018 MLS season, we repeatedly lost matches in the final 10 minutes when our defense failed to hold. The 2019 season hints at an end to that curse, however, as we earned a corner just past the 80 minute mark. Romell Quioto sent a high ball to the top of the box that our veteran captain, DaMarcus Beasley, read perfectly. With his weaker right foot, Beasley loosed an absolute rocket through a field of players, sinking a goal.

The Dynamo held on to their 1-0 lead through those last moments, so we meet Guastatoya at home next week with one away goal and a win secured.

And that new orange kit will be unveiled just in time.

Featured image: Sean Ringrose, with permission.

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne

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