Houston — The Houston Dynamo beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 – keeping a winning streak going for their best five-game start to a season in club history.
After being idle in Week 6, the Dynamo (4-0-1, 13 points) found goals from Alberth Elis and Tomas Martinez in minutes 52 and 60, respectively. All three goals in the match came during that eight-minute span, because Jackson Yueill scored for San Jose (1-5-0, 3 points) off an assist from teammate Shea Salinas in the 56th minute.
“We played only two games in one month so we were expecting a little bit of a lack of sharpness for moments. We were pushing the players and they responded very well,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said after the match.
Elis has been on fire, being involved in almost all the Dynamo’s scoring activity so far this season. And just like in all the matches before, Elis started to look for a goal early in the game – making his presence known to the announced crowd of 14,476.
“I think he is growing. I think he is getting more mature,” Cabrera said about the evolution of Elis. “The first ball he received during the game, he just played one touch to Mauro [Manotas] inside the box and Mauro almost scored – so that shows that he is adapting, that he is improving his game and he is becoming more dangerous.”
In the 6th minute Elis took a dangerous shot that was blocked by attentive San Jose goalie Daniel Vega. Shortly after, he tried to score once more with no luck. Vega was there to stop him again.
Just minutes later, Marlon Hairston scored what looked to be the opening goal for the home team, but after a brief celebration, the referee whistled for an offside call.
The Dynamo persisted once again, and this time defensive player Maynor Figueroa took a powerful shot from a distance that violently bounced off the crossbar. Still no score.
In the 32th minute, San Jose midfielder Anibal Godoy conceded a penalty after he fouled Martinez in the penalty area. Mauro Manotas took the shot for the penalty, but hit the side post. But Manotas quickly reacted and got the rebound in the net – however, it was invalid because the San Jose goalkeeper had not touched the ball, so a player other than Manotas had to score it.
Despite all the Dynamo’s persistence, a valid goal was elusive and the first half of the match ended 0-0. After a 70-minute delay due to a severe weather warning, the Dynamo came back onto the pitch.
Elis, who over and over tried to score, finally got a goal seven minutes into the half when Manotas created a perfect pass for him for a 1-0 Dynamo lead.
“We needed that goal. We wanted to win the game,” Elis said. “We knew it was going to be a very difficult match, but in the end, the important thing is that we win. I think it is not so important who scores.”
With the speed and ability Elis possesses, San Jose players had to resort to alternatives to stop him and on several occasions fouled him — one of those could have ended in a penalty. Referee Baldomero Toledo brushed off what seemed like a clear penalty to many against La Pantera Elis, and although the play was challenged, Toledo’s initial decision held – no penalty.
The Earthquakes lost no time. They had a quick turnaround and Yueill tied up the game 1-1 four minutes later.
Four minutes after that, a series of beautiful passes from Manotas to Elis to Martinez finished with a mighty left-footer that blazed into the back of San Jose’s net, the ultimate game-winner.
Saturday marked the Dynamo’s fourth consecutive win before heading on the road to face the La Galaxy Friday at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
“Thirteen points in five games is huge, and we want to continue to be at the top of the table,” Houston midfielder Marlon Hairston said. “We set such high expectations for ourselves, and to be a playoff team. I think every game we continue to make strides forward.”
As far as the Quakes, their story is different. They have now lost five of six games and will return home to take on Sporting Kansas City next Saturday.