Can we have this much fun every night? Dynamo’s remarkable home form continued on Saturday in a 4-0 romp over Orlando City SC. If not for a man of the match performance by Orlando’s goalkeeper, the margin of victory could have been much larger for the Dynamo.
Houston got off to a flying start, dominating possession in the early stages and demonstrating their desire to play at a very high tempo. Frontmen Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto, and Alberth Elis were particularly lively in applying pressure and forcing the Orlando back line into difficult positions. However, the Dynamo’s hot start came screeching to a halt in the 5th minute when Eric Alexander suffered a knee injury due to a collision with Orlando City striker Cyle Larin. Ricardo Clark replaced Alexander and the men in orange kept the foot on the gas, stringing together a number of promising attacking moves.
The Dynamo were rewarded for sustained pressure when Manotas won a penalty in the 11th minute. The Colombian went streaking into the box, cut back onto his favored right foot, and was immediately brought down from behind by Orlando midfielder Will Johnson. With Cubo Torres on the bench, Manotas stepped up to take the penalty and failed to convert when he sent a low drive wide left of the goal. The Dynamo showed resilience and remained on the front foot, and the first goal of the match came just over ten minutes later. Elis received the ball near the touchline and immediately ran at the Orlando defense, applied a couple of step overs for good measure, and fired a rocket past Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik at the near post. The rest of the half failed to produce additional goals and the Dynamo were likely disappointed to head into the locker room up by only one after the missed penalty and outshooting Orlando 6-1.
The second half began much like the first, and the Dynamo found the back of the net again in the 51st minute. Elis found Alex open on the right-hand side and the Brazilian’s determined run into the box led to a tidy ball to find Manotas near the penalty spot. Manotas’ first-time shot was straight at Bendik but had too much behind it for Orlando’s goalkeeper to prevent Manotas from notching the match’s second goal.
Quioto had a wonderful opportunity to put the match to bed in the 64th minute. Sheer pace sent the Honduran passed the Orlando defense at midfield and he elected to go for goal instead of finding Elis open at the back post. Quioto’s effort was pushed wide, but the home crowd hardly had time to rue the missed chance. Seconds later, Alex sent a precise ball over the top of Orlando’s defense and found Quioto in space again on the left-hand side and he was off to the races. This time Quioto found Manotas in a pocket of space centrally, and the Colombian took a calm touch before sliding a low drive past Bendik and off the post for his second of the night.
At this point the Dynamo could have sat on a 3-0 lead, but Wilmer Cabrera had no such plans. Quito made amends for his earlier miss in the 75th minute with the best goal of the game. Yet another ball over the top found an open Quioto, and the Honduran had plenty of time to assess his options before producing a brilliant curler from outside of the box. The Dynamo defense remained resolute for the remainder of the match and were able to preserve an impressive shutout.
The Dynamo will hope to carry the momentum from tonight’s performance when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday night.