3160ym191152874628466436367">The Houston Dynamo will enter the 2018 FIFA World Cup break with a win after a dominant 2-0 performance3160ym191152874628466436370"> over a Western Conference rival in the Colorado Rapids. The result is also the team’s fourth consecutive home victory3160ym191152874628466436373"> this season, improving to 5-2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium this season.
3160ym191152874628466436378">Here are three things we learned from the win on Star Wars Night:
3160ym191152874628466436383">1. The Empire Strikes Back
3160ym191152874628466436388">The Dynamo were looking to rectify their form in the results column after a two-loss week on the road and did so with Saturday’s win to tack on with the 5-0 win against NTX Rayados3160ym191152874628466436391"> in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The team enters the break with a 6-5-3 record and 7th place in the West – one point out of playoff qualification.
3160ym191152874628466436396">Unfortunately, the injuries continue to pile up with Andrew Wenger3160ym191152874628466436399"> needing to be subbed off in 3160ym191152874628466436402">the 25th minute after returning from a pregame injury before the May 25 match vs. New York City FC. The good news is players like Adam Lundkvist3160ym191152874628466436405">, making his third straight appearance and his first one in front of the home fans, continue to step in and perform well as others like Philippe Senderos3160ym191152874628466436408"> return from injury.
3160ym191152874628466436413">The week off will allow the team to rest some tired legs and hopefully allow the team to recuperate some of their injured combatants. The Dynamo will want to hit the ground running after the break, with ambitions to get back into the top six in the conference.
3160ym191152874628466436418">2. The Phantom Menace
Tomás Martínez3160ym191152874628466436425"> had one of his best performances as a Dynamo, undoing a Colorado defense that came in to Houston looking to be compact and hard to break down. Unfortunately for the Rapids, that would not be the case.
3160ym191152874628466436430">Martínez dazzled by splitting defenders in the box and putting one past Tim Howard3160ym191152874628466436433"> for the game-winning goal. His performance also earned him a spot in the MLS Team of the Week3160ym191152874628466436436">.
3160ym191152874628466436441">This is a different Tomás Martínez than what Dynamo fans saw in 2017 – one that feels more comfortable3160ym191152874628466436444"> in his role as a #10 after a full preseason with the team. The Rapids came in looking to sit back and counter, a strategy that saw them be the only team to leave Houston with three points in 2017, but having a player like Martínez pokes a hole in that plan and will make the Dynamo a harder team to beat.
3160ym191152874628466436449">3. Return of the Jedi
Mauro Manotas3160ym191152874628466436453"> had not seen the back of the net in four matches, his last goal coming at the Vancouver Whitecaps on May 11. He re-introduced himself with Saturday’s goal from the penalty spot3160ym191152874628466436456"> to increase the Dynamo’s lead in the 36th minute.
3160ym191152874628466436461">The 22-year-old Colombian now has six goals to his name, second on the team behind Alberth Elis, to match his second-best goalscoring year. He may be celebrating his best season at the end of the year.
3160ym191152874628466436559">Manotas himself admitted he’s been in a bit of a slump and thanked the coaching staff 3160ym191152874628466436560">during his postmatch comments 3160ym191152874628466436561">for having confidence in him. Repaying the team with goals is his best way to show his gratitude and, if he can build a bit more consistency, a top-form Manotas would really make the Dynamo a force to reckon with.