HOUSTON – Olé! Olé! Olé! The announced 18,123 Houston Dynamo fans at BBVA Compass Stadium chanted after each pass La Naranja completed during the last 10 minutes of Friday night’s game — and with good reason.
The Dynamo, after trailing by a goal early in the game, netted two goals in the second half to come back and defeat New York City FC 3-1.
The task wasn’t a simple one. Houston coach Wilmer Cabrera admitted after the game that his squad wanted to test itself against one of the best teams in MLS.
“From the beginning, we knew we had a tough game ahead of us against one of the best teams in MLS at the moment,” Cabrera said. “We wanted to be at that level. We wanted to test ourselves against New York City FC.”
They passed the test, albeit with an early wake-up call.
This season, Houston (5-3-3, 18 points) has jumped out to an early lead against their opponents on multiple occasions. The Orange have scored three goals in the first five minutes and six in the first 15 minutes this season.
But Friday, NYCFC (7-3-3, 24 points) turned the tables on the Dynamo by scoring in the sixth minute. And it came off a Dynamo mistake.
A New York City FC cross sailed into the box and right to Houston midfielder Eric Alexander, but Alexander’s clearance failed to leave the area and dropped at the feet of NYCFC’s star forward, David Villa. The Spaniard struck a one-timed volley that hit the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
The Dynamo, however, would atone for that early game mistake.
May 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Dynamo midfielder Eric Alexander (6) and New York City FC forward David Villa (7) battle for the ball during the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Romell Quioto won a free kick on the left wing just outside the box in the 21st minute. The Honduran stepped up and delivered a pass to Fuenmayor, whose snap header found the back of the net.
The goal — Fuenmayor’s second of the season — gives Quioto five assists.
But the Dynamo attack gained momentum in the second half, a credit to Cabrera’s halftime adjustments.
“We made some adjustments in terms of our shape and it was good,” Cabrera said. “Because the pressure came in and we had plenty of possibilities to score two goals, but it could have been more.”
The Dynamo attack took the reins and were rewarded for their efforts in the 69th minute thanks to Boniek García’s hustle on defense.
Garcia surprised NYCFC, which was trying to play out of the back, by stealing the ball 30 yards from goal. The Honduran sprinted toward the box and drew NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson off his line. Garcia promptly played a low cross to a wide-open Tomás Martinez, who calmly slotted his shot into the net.
Martinez celebrated by dancing and flaunting his No. 10 kit to the crowd. And the Argentinian wasn’t done. He truly showed his skill on the next Dynamo goal.
In the 80th minute, Martinez sent a long pass across the pitch to Memo Rodriguez. The Homegrown Player caught up to the ball and sprinted towards goal. He then sent a cross into the box, where Alberth Elis headed the ball toward goal. Johnson saved the shot, but the rebound came back to Elis and he quickly took the scoring shot.
“In the second half, we played a lot better. I think it was one of our best 45 minutes of the season,” Martinez said. “We had the ball, we were aggressive. When we had to pass, we passed. And when we had to accelerate, we accelerated. It was our best 45 of the season.”
New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira said his side gave the Dynamo too much running room in the second half. He said the first goal was a mistake and the second was a counterattack, something he noted his side has been working on.
“I’m really disappointed because I think we at least deserved to get a point tonight,” Vieira said.
Houston is now unbeaten in the last four games. Friday’s result against New York City FC marks the team’s second consecutive win after getting its first road win of the season last week against Chicago Fire.
The Dynamo will look to keep their unbeaten streak as they head back out on the road next week to face Real Salt Lake.