Last season’s Western Conference finalist Houston Dynamo continued their mastery at BBVA Compass Stadium with a 4-0 season opening win over visiting Atlanta United. The four goal outburst in the 2018 opener improved Houston’s home mark to 6-0-1 since defeating DC United in the first ever match on April 12, 2012.
“We’re here to work. We’re here to talk on the field,” said Cabrera. “That is where we need to talk, and today was a good day. It’s only one game out of 34 and we have 33 in front of us. This is a long season. It’s going to be difficult. It is going to be complicated. All of the teams are getting stronger and better, so that is why we wanted to get stronger and better in the little details to be sure that we compete at the same level.”
Entering Saturday afternoon’s match, the question loomed as to how this year’s team would respond to playing with a target on their back. After all, this 2018 roster with its nucleus returning would not be sneaking up on anyone after scoring 57 goals last season. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera could not have asked for a better start for his team that netted a record setting 43 home goals a season ago. Thirty of the teams 57 goals last season came in the first 45 minutes of play and Houston’s proclivity for scoring early and often continued in 2018.
Andrew Wenger put away the game’s first marker in the fifth minute of play after forward Alberth Elis overpowered González Pírez out wide drawing Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan away from the goal line setting up Wenger for the easy tap in.
Less than twenty minutes later, defender Philippe Senderos would soar over the Atlanta defense to head home another marker. Not since Texas native and former Dynamo star Bobby Boswell departed has the Houston side had a defender who could get up in the box like Senderos. Coincidentally or not, the Swede’s first goal in nearly four years (March 13, 2014) came against his former Aston Villa teammate and United keeper Brad Guzan, also a header.
“It was a corner. We rehearsed corners – we know that we are dangerous and it was another opportunity to put pressure on them and we did that,” explained Senderos on his first MLS goal. “The delivery was good and I was able to get away from the defender and I put my head in there. It was a very important moment to put the second one straight after the first one when we are leading in the first half. We are very happy to have started well at home, the support was brilliant, and we are really excited for the next step.”
Four minutes later, Mauro Manotas gave the Dynamo a three goal advantage with his first tally of 2018.
In first half stoppage time, Darwin Ceren in his Dynamo debut made it 4-0 just seconds before the halftime whistle.
“I had a feeling of him going there,” said Seitz about the stop. “We do a lot of work on that stuff. I tried to get there early and make him push it wide. At that point, when you get there and he sees you going in that direction, you put doubt in his mind. I did everything I could; luckily we kept it out.”
In other MLS action
FC Dallas 1 RSL 1 - Marcelo Silva got the equalizer in the 86’ salvaging a point in FCD’s home opener.
San Jose 3 Minnesota 2 - Despite a late brace from Minnesota’s Kevin Molino (81’, 85’), it was San Jose’s Danny Hoesen’s brace that (51’, 59’) and Valeri Qazaishvili opening goal (28’) that proved to be too much.
Columbus 2 TFC 0 - Fernando Higuain and Gyasi Zardes scored minutes apart ahead of the halftime whistle as the visiting Crew upset TFC to start the 2018 campaign.
Philadelphia 2 Rev 0 - Goals by Anthony Fontana and C.J. Sapong led Philadelphia to 2018 home opening win.
Orlando 1 DCU 1 - Stefan Pinhon (90’+3) goal with seconds to spare in second half stoppage time spoiled an up bid by visiting DC United. Tamil Asad tallied for DCH in 32’.
Seattle 0 LAFC 1 - Diego Rossi’s goal in the 11th minute stood up as LAFC posted 1-0 win over the 2016 MLS Cup champion.
Vancouver 2 Montreal 1 - Goals by Kei Kamara (63’) in his Whitecaps debut and Aphonso Davies (70’) staved off a late rally Montreal. Matteo Mancouso (81’) had the lone tally for the Impact.
Sporting KC 0 NYC FC 2 - Goals by Maximilliano Morales and Jesus Morales powered NYC FC to an opening road win in 2018.
LA Galaxy 2 Portland 1 - First half goals by Ola Kamara and Romain Alessandrini carried the Galaxy to a win in their season opener with Portland. Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco scored in the 66’.