Apr 21, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Ager Aketxe (8) controls the ball as Houston Dynamo midfielder Eric Alexander (6) defends during the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON – In under 10 minutes, the Houston Dynamo flexed their strength against a Toronto FC side fielding reserves Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium and kicked off scoring on the way to a 5-1 win.
The three points are a much-needed breath of fresh air for Houston, who last week settled for a draw after letting a road win slip away against the San Jose Earthquakes. Saturday’s victory is also Houston’s first since an opening-day win against Atlanta United.
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said the performance was an important one for his side, especially since the Dynamo lost their past two home games — a place where they had only lost once all last season.
“We needed this win really bad,” Cabrera said.
Alberth Elis, who added a goal to his season’s tally, concurs.
“We knew that we needed to come out and just dominate because we had dropped two games at home,” Elis said. “Thankfully the goals started falling really early in the game.”
Houston took care of business and didn’t wait long to give the announced 17,109 in attendance something to cheer about.
Last season, Houston was content to let the opposition control the ball and wait to hit on the counter. This season, however, the Dynamo have tried to pressure teams higher up the pitch and on Saturday, that tactic paid off in the game’s first goal.
High pressure from the Dynamo in the third minute forced a Toronto turnover in their half, which Romell Quioto pounced on. He slipped a pass to Mauro Manotas, who got inside the box and nutmegged Toronto keeper Clint Irwin for the game’s first goal. A second goal followed minutes later to give the home side a quick 2-0 lead.
Despite the early good start, Cabrera said his side could have had better possession after it scored the two quick goals.
“I think we conceded too many options for them that shouldn’t have happened,” Cabrera said.
One of those opportunities came on a Toronto goal the official waived off for being offside.
If Cabrera wasn’t pleased with his team’s ball possession, he certainly was with his team’s second-half performance. Houston started the second half much the same way it started the game — by scoring a goal.
Quioto — who had his best game of the season — got to the end line and sent in a low cross that ricocheted off a Toronto defender. Eric Alexander pounced on the loose ball and tapped it in. The goals kept on coming with Elis connecting on yet another Quioto cross for the Dynamo’s fourth goal.
The Honduran international got on the score sheet himself late in the game for La Naranja’s fifth goal of the game and Quioto’s first of the season. He finished the game with a goal and two assists.
Additionally, it meant all of Houston’s forwards scored in the game — a point Cabrera made sure to point out.
“It was positive for us that our forwards scored,” Cabrera said. “Romell, Alberth, and Mauro all three up front scored and that is important for them to get their confidence.”
Toronto FC, who faces Liga MX side Chivas de Guadalajara on Wednesday in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final, knew what to expect when facing the Dynamo.
“I think they’re trying to release their wingers who are very fast and they have little actions that they do there,” Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney said.
“For us, it was about getting to appropriate positions and appropriate markings distances to deal with the likes of Quioto and Elis, who are very fast and will lay balls off. And if you give them 30 yards and it’s a sprint race then they’re going to get you on things like that.”
Houston (2-2-2, 8 points) did get Toronto (1-4-0, 3 points) — five times.