Win keeps hopes for a playoff berth alive
The Dynamo haven’t had the most auspicious season, but on Saturday, they turned a hapless start into points, snapping a 10game winless streak to beat Portland 4-1 at BBVA Compass Stadium, very narrowly keeping their playoff aspirations alive.
Misfortune struck early when defender Alvas Powell looked to build on a promising sequence and chipped a pass to Diego Valeri toward the goal. Dynamo defender Alejandro Fuenmayor outstretched his leg to intercept, inadvertently popping the ball over keeper Joe Willis for a 9th-minute Timbers score instead of clearing the threat.
“We’ve been working for two weeks to try to forget what’s been happening lately with our results,” coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “The players made a commitment to work harder, to push.”
Houston (8-13-7; 31 points) missed a chance to equalize as minute 17 turned to 18 — an opportunistic window in which a corner kick presented a series of moments for the Dynamo, including one where the ball was barely cleared before it could break the goal line.
But 14 minutes later, forward Alberth Elis scored his 11th goal of the season and his second in as many straight games.
In minute 32, midfielder Tomas Martinez chipped a curling free kick toward the edge of the area, and Elis rose to head the ball into the opposite side of the net for the tying goal.
But Elis wasn’t done for the night.
Seven minutes later, he received the ball from Martinez again in Portland’s (12-8-8; 44 points) half, this time a short way past midfield where he charged from the flank, firing a shot across the net and connecting with a sliding Mauro Manotas for the go-ahead goal.
The score jolted the crowd and gave Manotas his 17th goal in all competitions this year, a franchise record — surpassing Will Bruin’s high set in 2012.
The Dynamo are fighting for pride just as much the slim possibility of a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Portland is looking to secure its spot from hungry opportunists.
As Houston has done so many times late in games this season, it nearly surrendered a score, this time in the fading minutes of the first half. In the 43rd minute, Willis reacted just quickly enough to deflect Sebastian Blanco’s shot as he danced around a trio of defenders in the box.
A minute later, Blanco recorded a would-be assist on Diego Chara’s score that was reversed by an offside call.
Houston’s win evens its all-time series with Portland (5-5-4), a team Manotas has typically excelled against. His brace gives him seven goals in his last six appearances vs. the Timbers and also sets a team record for most regular-season goals (14).
Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley, left, and Timbers defender Alvas Powell battle for possession Saturday night.