Houston Dynamo forward Mauro Manotas struck once in each half, recording his sixth career brace en route to a 2-1 win over FC Dallas at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.
With the win, Houston’s first against its in-state rival since 2016, the Dynamo (6-1-1; 19 points) leapfrog Dallas (5-3-2; 17 points) in the standings and earn what is arguably the toughest win of the 2019 MLS campaign.
"Solid game overall for the team," coach Wilmer Cabrera said.
"I’m really happy with the functioning of the team, the shape."
Manotas helped initiate his first goal with a pass out to a charging Alberth Elis, who attacked the Dallas area from the top corner of the box. He tried to split a pair and was tripped in the process, prompting the foul in the 19th minute.
Manotas coolly slotted the score despite the keeper guessing then diving in the right direction.
Minutes after the second half began, Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis repelled a pair of shots that could’ve evened the score. He finished with five saves, including one from close-range just inches from the net.
"They didn’t find possibilities to penetrate with any easy situations," Cabrera said.
"We won well, we had better options and everyone was focused and concentrated."
Forward Memo Rodriguez has earned more minutes along Houston’s frontline through the early parts of the MLS season. He entered Saturday’s game as the Dynamo’s co-leading scorer next to Elis (four goals) and started for Romell Quioto — who made his first appearance following a March injury coming off of the bench later in the match.
Manotas tallied his second score of the match through a fluid sequence between Houston’s attackers.
Elis maintained control of the ball on a counterattack near midfield and broke inside before swinging a cross-field pass through the legs of Manotas over to Rodriguez on the opposite end of the field. Rodriguez whipped a pass back inside where his pass met the foot of Manotas and flew into the back of the net to double the lead.
The sequence provided Manotas with his 40th career league goal and Rodriguez’s second career MLS assist — and the first of 2019.
Coming off of its first clean sheet of the MLS season, Houston sought to earn a second straight.
That endeavor felt more promising when Quioto came on in the 85th minute. Seconds later he put the team ahead by three after connecting with Elis, but he was called offside.
Dallas took possession and briskly maneuvered down the field.
A minute later, FC Dallas midfielder Michael Barrios shipped a pass into the box, enabling Dominique Badji to cut the lead in half with a quick goal.
Having blown a would-be draw against another top team — the L.A. Galaxy — in late April, Houston appeared poised to hold on to Saturday’s one-goal advantage. But with seven minutes of prescribed stoppage time, FC Dallas remained in striking distance with time to orchestrate a series of attacks.
Six minutes in, FC Dallas midfielder Santiago Mosquera scored the equalizer to the crowd of 16,521’s disbelief. But the goal was erased by a foul against Dallas captain Reto Ziegler, who dragged Houston defender Maynor Figueroa to the grass during the play.
Houston, already off to its best start in club history, has reached 19 points in league play two games faster than any other team in Dynamo history.
"They are a good team and we are a good team but we were better than them today, that’s for sure," Cabrera said. "I don’t have any doubt that Houston Dynamo was a better team today."