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Memo Rodriguez, Alberth Elis lead Houston Dynamo 3-2 over Vancouver Whitecaps

Mar 16, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis (17) celebrates with forward Mauro Manotas (9) and midfielder Memo Rodriguez (8) after scoring a goal during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BBVA Compass Stadium. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston — Memo Rodriguez scored two goals, both assisted by Alberth Elis, to lead the Houston Dynamo to a 3-2 victory at BBVA Compass against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

In the two previous weeks, many questioned Houston about conceding goals first. Well, in Week 3 of the Major League Soccer season, the Dynamo answered by getting on the scoreboard by the 14th minute of the match.

“I think the team showed solidity at all times. The team kept the ball well, maintained the order well, we pressured when we had to and we controlled the ball and had fast transitions when needed,” said Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera.

Elis pressured a play that seemed dead after the ball was in possession of Vancouver defense. Elis persisted and gained control after a ricochet fell in his favor. He then quickly set up the play for Rodriguez, who softly tapped the ball into the net to place La Naranja in the lead 1-0.

“I liked the game in general. On the players’ part they had a good mentality, good disposition and generated good soccer during the 90 minutes,” Cabrera said.

A week ago,  Rodriguez also scored for his team and won the MLS goal of the week. After that, he said he wanted to keep the goals coming — and he did. In the 34th minute, what started as a normal corner in favor of Vancouver ended up in a penalty kick for the visiting team to tie the score 1-1.

The PK came after Adam Lundkvist from the Dynamo and Vancouver’s Fredy Montero both went for the ball and had a slight bump-in. Montero dramatically fell to the ground. The referee, Nima Saghafi, stood his ground and whistled for the PK, despite Lundkvist throwing his body to the ground and rolling around in disbelief. Montero took the kick and fired right as goalkeeper Joe Willis dove left.

“Two unnecessary goals, I think, two mistakes – stupid mistakes. I mean if we just clean it up, I think we were really good going forward today,” said Lundkvist after the match.

A couple of minutes later, Elis was right on the end line when he was brought down by Vancouver defender Derek Cornelius, who had difficulties guarding Elis the entire game. Another PK was called, this time in favor of the Dynamo. There was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster on the field after Saghafi initially declared it a PK, then said no, then went to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to check and finally came to the decision that it was indeed a penalty – sending the crowd into an uproar.

Elis shot the penalty that gave the home team a 2-1 lead going at the end of the first half.

The start of the second half was filled with goal opportunities for both teams, but the Whitecaps took advantage first and score an equalizer in the 54th minute, when Lass Bangoura broke away from Dynamo players and scored.

Rodriguez handed three points to his team in the 74th minute, when the midfielder scored off another Eli assist for the final 3-2 scoreline. Elis accepted a pass from Mauro Manotas before sending it to Rodriguez, who smoothly put the ball in the rivals’ sacred net.

“I am good. It’s motivation for me. I got to come out and fight from start, you know I have to have that right mentality – that I am going to go in and help the team win,” said Rodriguez when asked about his recent scoring streak.  

While the goals were scored by Rodriguez, he highlighted the importance of teamwork and the major part Elis played in today’s win. 

“All credit to Alberth, his speed, he puts defenders in trouble all the time. I think I am going to have to start to run a little bit faster, because he is faster than me, so I have to get ready for that ball,” said Rodriguez laughing. 

The Houston Dynamo obtain their second win at home and will now hit the road for their first away game of the season against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, March 30th.

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