The Houston Dynamo turned a potential 2-0 loss into a 2-2 draw that undoubtedly will feel like a victory for the Orange as they scored twice in stoppage time to salvage a point. Here are three takeaways from the improbable comeback.
Potential turning point
LAFC carried a 2-0 lead into the 90th minute, and with the game all but over, the Dynamo could have folded and taken the loss. Instead, La Naranja went down swinging and were rewarded for their efforts via two stoppage-time goals in the 93rd and 96th minute. The 96th-minute goal was the latest scored by Houston in the regular season. For a team that has made it their MO to give up leads this season — to date, Houston has dropped 12 points from winning positions — getting a draw late in this game could be a benefit to Houston going forward.
“Today, we came from 2-0 to 2-2 which it feels like winning, why, because when you are losing 2-0, and you come back in the last five minutes of extra time, you have to be feeling good, and you have the fans and all of us feeling like it is also a win,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “We might not have gotten the three points, we just got one, but this one point could be the turning point for us, and we believe in that.”
Nearing the halfway mark of the regular season, and with five games in July, the Dynamo — who currently sit outside a playoff position with 22 points — can make up ground in the Western Conference standings.
Mauro Manotas find his form
Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas got the comeback started in the 93rd minute. The Colombian brought down a pass from DaMarcus Beasley and started a sprint towards goal. LAFC defender Laurent Ciman stepped up to meet him but Manotas nutmegged him and blew past him for a 1v1 with the ‘keeper. Manotas slotted his shot into the back of the net and quickly recover the ball to restart the game. The score was Manotas’ third goal in three consecutive games. He now also leads the team with nine goals on the season. One more than Alberth Elis.
With the goal, the 22-year-old surpassed Dwayne De Rosario for sole possession of sixth on the Dynamo’s all-time scoring list in MLS regular season. It’s also his 31st across all competitions, which ties him with Ricardo Clark for sixth all-time in the club’s scoring list in all competitions.
“I have only played on two teams in my career; when I was in Colombia, I left a good image of myself. Here with the Houston Dynamo, I am showing how perseverant I am and how I don’t give up,” Manotas said on the accomplishment. “This is a reward to the work I have been doing.”
With Manotas finding his form, and Elis continuing to wreak havoc on opponents, it could be a boost to a Dynamo side that wants to make a push for the playoffs,
Darwin Cerén returns to action
The Dynamo have been hit by injuries this season and have had to put out makeshift defenses on more than on occasion. Houston has missed the calmed presence of midfielder Juan David Cabezas on the pitch ever since he picked up an injury in the first game of the season. He attempted a comeback but only reaggravated the injury and is still working his way back. In his absence stepped in Darwin Cerén, but the El Salvadorean national picked up an injury in May that required surgery. On Tuesday, against LAFC, Ceren made his MLS return and played 35 minutes.
Having Cerén back and healthy will go along way to helping Houston close out games especially considering there is no timetable as of yet for Cabezas’ return to action. Boniek García has replaced Cerén in the starting lineup and the Honduran has taken advantage of the playing opportunity, racking up four assists in the process. While Cerén regains match fitness and game rhythm, expect García to stay in the starting eleven but having Cerén back is a boost to the Dynamo.