MLS is finally back! After what felt like forever the league returned to action this weekend. The Dynamo kicked the season off in a big way in front of 20,377 fans on Saturday as they hosted (and defeated) Atlanta United. While many ‘experts’ have picked Atlanta to rule the league this season they looked more like losers as they fell 4-0 to the dominate Dynamo.
The Dynamo got on the scoreboard just a few minutes into the game thanks in large part to the speed on Alberth Elis. The speedy forward got past Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and crossed the ball into the box where Andrew Wenger was waiting in front of goal. Wenger easily tapped the ball in as goal keeper Brad Guzan had gone to the ground trying to stop the in-ball from Elis. The goal put Houston up 1-0 in the 5th minute of the game.
Mauro Manotas created a turnover a few minutes later getting ahead of his defender. The forward went 1v1 against Guzan as he dribbled into the box but the goalkeeper was able to stop the shot. In fact, the goalkeeper would largely be the reason why the Dynamo didn’t end the game with 9 or 10 goals as he did his best to keep his squad in the game.
Ten minutes later it was Manotas again with another shot but Guzan parried it away. Out for a corner kick, Boniek Garcia took a short corner which he played to Eric Alexander who played it back to Boniek. Who then crossed the ball into the box where the cross found its way to the head of Philippe Senderos who redirected it to goal to put Houston up 2-0 in the 24th minute.
Three minutes later Mauro Manotas pounced on a loose ball to put it in the back of the net and make it 3-0. After a pass to Wenger, the Atlanta defender on him broke up the play with a sliding tackle that popped the ball loose. The good news ended there for Atlanta as Manotas saw the loose ball and hit a shot towards the net. The ball went past Guzan, who had come out of goal for the play on Wenger, as he fell backwards leaving no one to stop the shot.
In the the fifth minute of first half stoppage time Guzan got a hand on a free kick from Boniek Garcia. Unfortunately for the goal keeper he sent the ball back into traffic which allowed Darwin Ceren to score. Ceren was outside of the fray of players but saw what was taking shape in front of him as he ran in to strike the ball. With Guzan not in position to stop the ball and the other Atlanta players unable to make a stop Ceren (even the Atlanta player putting a hand up to try and stop it?!) scored his first goal for the Dynamo to put the team up 4-0.
The Dynamo had a scary start to the second half as Chris Seitz gave up a penalty after he made a sliding tackle on Josef Martinez bringing him down in the box. Miguel Almiron took the penalty kick for Atlanta but Seitz guessed the right way and got a finger time on the shot pushing the ball out and off the post.
As the second half worn on it lacked the fired power of the first half as neither team would score. Houston only got off three shots in the second half to bring their game total to 13 and four goals in the first half. Atlanta would finish the game with 13 as well but no goals. They won the possession battle with nearly 10% more possession than the men in orange. As was true many times for the Dynamo last season they won a game where they failed to dominate possession of the ball.
It was a great, and encouraging, start to the season for the Dynamo but at just one game in can they sustain it for the whole season? Next week, the Dynamo will host the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
Dynamo Starting XI: Seitz; K. Garcia, Machado, Senderos, Beasley ©; Alexander, Cabezas; Elis, B. García, Wenger; Manotas#HOUvATL #ForeverOrange pic.twitter.com/e9j4WgcKFw— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) March 3, 2018
#ATLUTD's Starting XI to face @HoustonDynamo pic.twitter.com/F0fGWb6p47— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 3, 2018
15' SUB: Darwin Cerén makes his Dynamo debut, replacing Juan David Cabezas due to injury. #HOUvATL— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) March 3, 2018
39' | #ATLUTD substitution pic.twitter.com/GswYxIP4aG— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 3, 2018
61' | #ATLUTD substitution pic.twitter.com/q99LwcUnmp— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 3, 2018
68' SUB: Houston native Arturo Alvarez makes his Dynamo debut, replacing Andrew Wenger. #HOUvATL— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) March 3, 2018
73' | #ATLUTD substitution pic.twitter.com/A7O2d22r14— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 3, 2018
75' SUB: Romell Quioto replaces Boniek García for our third and final change.— Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamo) March 3, 2018
Still 4-0 here. #HOUvATL