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Juan David Cabezas returns to action, and more from the Houston Dynamo’s 4-1 win at home

Sep 15, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Juan David Cabezas (5) kicks the ball during the second half against the Portland Timbers at BBVA Compass Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The Houston Dynamo broke a 10-game winless streak Saturday with their 4-1 blitzing of the Portland Timbers. Here are three takeaways from the match. 

Winning cures all that ails

Entering Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers, the Houston Dynamo had an itch that only a win could fix. The Orange were in the midst of a 10-game winless streak that stretches back to July 7. Since that date, Houston went 0-7-3 and stayed stuck in the standings, while other teams started separating themselves from the pack. The victory broke that streak, and perhaps more importantly, got the Dynamo rolling. 

The three points come at a much-needed time for Houston. And while they are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, the reality is the Dynamo’s focus is the U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 26. Houston is hosting the final, and if it succeeds in defending the home pitch, the Dynamo will lift the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the first time in club history.

Saturday’s win and the four goals will help get them in a rhythm and on a roll as the final inches closer. 

“We knew that we are not in great confidence, that’s not a secret, but the best way to gain your confidence is to be disciplined, to fight for every ball and to go back to our A, B, C, something that’s easy for us to do,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said, adding the team played on its strengths.

“Our strengths were to be solid defensively and use our speed up front.”

Mauro Manotas makes history

When Mauro Manotas joined the Houston Dynamo in 2015, it hardly moved the needle. Manotas was then a 19-year-old striker joining a Dynamo team with the likes of Will Bruin, Giles Barnes and Erick ‘ Cubo’ Torres on the roster. Playing time was going to be hard to come by, and it was. But Manotas is the only one left and this season he was handed the starting striker role — and he’s paid back the faith Cabrera and the Dynamo have in him. 

With the Brace on Saturday, Manotas tied Torres’ record of 14 goals in a season and first to score 18 goals across all competitions. And he’s been doing it while wearing the No. 9 jersey, the first season he’s worn it. 

“Have patience. Have a little bit of patience,” Manotas answered when asked what he would tell the 19-year-old that signed with the Dynamo four years ago.

“And I had it. I had a lot of patience because honestly, in the beginning, it was difficult. I accept that when I first came here I wasn’t prepared enough to compete with the forwards that were here. But with work, dedication, and will, things are coming to fruition.”

Dynamo MPV returns to action 

No one could have predicted that the Dynamo’s MVP last season would only have 40 minutes of action at this point in the season, but that’s the predicament that fell upon Houston. Juan David Cabezas picked up an injury in the first game of the season. The Colombian midfielder exited the game after only 15 minutes of action. 

His absence on the Dynamo roster can’t be underestimated. Cabrera went as far as to compare Cabezas to Lionel Messi in terms of importance to the team. 

“We’ve suffered a lot by not having our best player. Any team would suffer. If you take Messi away from Barcelona for seven months, I think they will suffer. If you take the best player away from a team for seven months, the team will suffer,” Cabrera said. 

“We’ve suffered for seven months by not having Juan David, but thankfully, today that chapter is over.”

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