The Houston Dynamo picked up their first-ever win over New York City FC in a 3-1 home win last Friday at BBVA Compass Stadium. The result extended their current unbeaten streak to four game, their best stretch of 2018, as the team continues to build consistency heading into the end of May.
Here are three things we learned:
1. Heating up
The temperature continues to rise in Houston as the calendar rolls closer to summer but that’s not the only thing that’s hot about H-Town these days. The Dynamo offense has picked up steam by scoring in seven consecutive matches, going 4-1-2 in that stretch, and picking up back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Alberth Elis continues to soar up the goal charts, now leading the team with seven, and is one away from tying the league-high. Romell Quioto, on his end, has tied his Honduran counterpart for the team lead with five assists – picking his latest via a free kick to Alejandro Fuenmayor.
The Dynamo are now tied for the league lead in total goals scored with 26, and are second in shots on target with 79. The men in orange are putting plenty of heat on the opposition's defense.
2. Maintaining depth
Friday night saw the return to the field of 2017 team MVP, Juan David Cabezas. The 27-year-old Colombian played his first minutes since having to be subbed off in the 15th minute of the opening match against Atlanta United and will look to regain fitness and return to the lineup.
On the other end, Andrew Wenger was a late scratch due to tightness in his right calf during pregame warm-ups and others like Philippe Senderos and A.J. DeLaGarza still continue to work back from injuries. Off the bench, Luis Gil picked up his third consecutive appearance and Memo Rodriguez got back on the field for his first appearance since his game-winning goal against LA Galaxy, while Jared Watts played a half of soccer with the RGV FC Toros midweek and made the bench for Friday's match in his first action since suffering an injury after his trade to Houston.
It’s been a balancing act head coach Wilmer Cabrera has achieved by offsetting injuries with guys hungry for minutes. Regardless of how Cabrera lines up his team against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, the depth of the roster is aiding the recent run of form and will continue to be key in the upcoming road trip of two matches in four days – especially with Adolfo Machado gone from back line as Panama prepares for the FIFA World Cup.
3. Taking On All Comers
The way the Dynamo pummeled New York City FC in the second half – outshooting them 13 to six – was up there with the best form the team has shown all season. Adding that to the comeback in Chicago and glimpses shown in other matches earlier this year, there is proof to indicate that the Dynamo can outmuscle any team in Major League Soccer on any given day.
The factors keeping the team from being the best in the conference have been consistency and in-game mistakes, typical quirks to address early in the season. Cabrera said in his postmatch conference, “If our players play their game with the concentration, intensity, and mentality the way we did it today against one of the top teams in MLS, we’re going to be able to perform well and play this way hopefully throughout the rest of the season.”
The club is barely a third of the way into the season, but this next swing of matches could help distance themselves from teams at the bottom of the table and entrench themselves in a playoff position. NYCFC was top of the league a few weeks ago and are a perfect example of how teams can be quick to rise – and fall – in MLS, making consistency that much more important.