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Anatomy of a Goal - Elis Finishes off the Rapids

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a 4-1 win on the road in Colorado, the Dynamo are off to their best start in MLS history with 3 wins and a draw from their first 4 games. A huge part of their success has been their ability to create space and lanes for their dangerous attackers to exploit. In this “Anatomy of a Goal” I’ll take a look at Alberth Elis’ goal, the Dynamo’s fourth of the night, that killed off the Rapids and was a great example of the offense doing what they do best.

The move started with Tomas Martinez on the ball near the touchline, seemingly in trouble. Two Rapids players seem to have Martinez pinned to the sideline with nowhere to go. You might think Martinez has nowhere to go here. You would be wrong.

Martinez is able to get by both Colorado defenders and in doing so set himself up with tons of space. You will notice no other Dynamo players in the frame, so Martinez makes the smart decision and opts to go right where he has help arriving.

Martinez plays the ball square to Marlon Hairston as the play begins to develop. Hairston has space in front of him as Martinez begins his run down the left channel and Mauro Manotas surges forward in to the middle channel. Manotas has gotten so good at his runs over the last two years. You will notice as the play continues to develop and Manotas makes a patented “number 9 run” how the defense is forced to key on him.

As Hairston now moves the ball to Manotas you can see what makes the Dynamo offense of space and channels really click. Martinez’s run on the left has taken 2 Rapids defenders with him. Hairston now continues his run in a central channel and takes more defenders with him. Alberth Elis, the eventual goal scorer now enters the frame, making a run down the right channel. With the ball at Manotas’s feet, two Rapids defenders are watching him, allowing Elis enough time, with his blazing speed, to get behind the backline.

Manotas now spots Elis’ run and slots the ball in to space for his teammate to run on to. Martinez has pulled defenders away with his run in the left channel, as has Hairston with his run through the middle channel. Elis has continued his run in the right channel and with the defenders paying attention to Manotas, has been able to get in to the space with a step on the defense.

Elis receives the ball and his speed has left Colorado’s number 10, Kellyn Acosta, with no chance. Number 44 Axel Sjoberg is late to get over, as he was pulled from the center by the runs of Martinez and Hariston, and Tim Howard is left with no chance as Elis slots the ball away to give the Dynamo a commanding lead and eventually a big three points on the road.

The only downside of this play: Elis didn’t panther crawl. But after putting up 4 goals on the road, including this well worked tally, a team hug is more than an acceptable way to celebrate a job well done.

If you’ve watched the Dynamo under Wilmer Cabrera you know how deadly they are on counterattacks and with Tomas Martinez now showing his play-making ability, expect a lot more of these types of goals this season. With players such as Memo Rodriguez, Romell Quioto, and the players involved above, Martinez’s ability to create space and open channels will be a huge influence on the Dynamo’s success in 2019.