Houston Dynamo midfielder Alex, who this season has worked himself into a contender for MLS Best XI and the MLS All-Star squad, had been feeling frustrated entering Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Real Salt Lake at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Brazilian midfielder had yet to score a goal through the first 13 games this season — after scoring five last season — and that was weighing heavy on his mind.
Against RSL, the left-footed midfielder took out his frustration on the ball as he struck it just outside the box. The low shot nestled into the bottom right corner for his first goal of the season and a 2-0 lead for the Dynamo.
Alex — who started in his 100th MLS game — was all smiles afterward.
“I’m happy and excited because I’ve worked hard and things are going well for me now,” Alex said. “Just happy that I’ve been able to be in the starting XI 100 times.”
Before making a name for himself with the Dynamo, Alex plied his trade with the Chicago Fire, playing 76 games for the Windy City club and starting 48 of them. He joined the Dynamo in 2015 and has played in 59 games for Houston, starting 52.
His goal against Real Salt Lake would prove to be the game winner, but the game could have been a lot closer if not for some stellar first half saves from Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric.
Deric followed his stellar performance against FC Dallas with another fabulous outing between the sticks. A Dynamo Academy product, Deric had eight saves in the game — five in the first half to keep Real Salt Lake at bay while Houston built a 3-0 lead at the other end.
The eight saves put Deric second on the team in the Audi Index with 811 points. Alex, who had 861 points, was the top Audi Index performer of the game.
Deric's big game on Wednesday evening followed a similarly impressive outing in a 0-0 draw at FC Dallas on Sunday, which was his first start after losing the No. 1 spot to Joe Willis nearly two months earlier. Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera hasn’t yet settled on a permanent starter and all indications are that he won’t.
But does Deric thinks he’s done enough in these past two game to cement his place as the Number 1 keeper?
“I don’t worry about that. I love Wilmer and he’s going to pick the team that he picks,” Deric said. “I respect his decision and as much as I want to be out there, I’m going to do everything I can to be out on the field. But it’s his decision, I just have to go out there and make it a tough decision for him every week.”