The Houston Dynamo blitzed Atlanta United with a barrage of first-half goals in a 4-0 win Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium in their MLS season opener.
“We started off very sharp against a very, very talented and dangerous team,” Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “At the beginning of the game, we attacked, they attacked. We created options, they created options.”
The Dynamo got on the scoreboard early and often, as forward Andrew Wenger slid a cross from Alberth Elis, who outran Atlanta’s defense, into the back of the net in the match’s fifth minute for a 1-0 lead.
Forward Mauro Manotas had a one-on-one fast-break opportunity shortly thereafter, but Atlanta goal keeper Brad Guzan made a great save. However, that set up a corner kick that the Dynamo capitalized on, as defender Philippe Senderos sent a header past the keeper off of midfielder Boniek Garcia’s serve into the box.
The Dynamo kept rolling on in the 27th minute when United failed to properly clear a ball out of the box and Manotas easily sent the loose ball in for a goal.
Not content to rest on their laurels and coast into halftime, the Dynamo added another goal, as midfielder Darwin Ceren took a free kick deflected by Guzan and sent it past the keeper for a 4-0 lead in the fifth minute of the first half’s added time.
The four first-half goals tied a Dynamo franchise record that has only been accomplished three other times in the club’s history.
“It was a very, very good first half,” Cabrera said. “We were very clinical with our finishing, and we were able to put the game away for us. We have to continue looking forward because this is the first game of the season. We’ve just played one game. It’s good to get the three points, it’s good to score goals … but this is just the beginning.”
Scoring opportunities were created frequently in the action-packed season opener.
Manotas sent a ball into the box in first minute, but no one was able to get a good touch on it.
In the third minute, United had a golden opportunity deep in Houston’s penalty area, but the Dynamo defense turned it away.
In the 12th minute, Manotas stole the ball from Atlanta and fired a shot on goal that was saved by Guzan. That set up a corner kick, but United’s defense managed to clear the ball out of harm’s way.
Elis sent a dangerous ball to Manotas in the 21st minute, but Guzan dove on the ball for the save.
Atlanta blew another strong chance at a goal when star midfielder Miguel Almiron shanked an open look right in front of Houston’s goal.
United cleared a corner kick in the 41st minute, and then deflected away a shot on goal.
In the 44th minute, Almiron had nothing but grass between him and Dynamo goalkeeper Chris Seitz, but a dump-off pass was off the mark. Seitz also made a nice save on a shot on goal during the first minute of the added time at the end of the first half.
Elis made a nice run in the third minute of added time, but his shot on goal was knocked away.
Atlanta seemingly had a goal served on a platter in the 49th minute with a penalty kick awarded, but Almiron’s shot bounced off the left post and out of play.
A promising run by Elis in the 53rd minute was stopped by a nice defensive stand by United.
In the 57th minute, Elis couldn’t catch up to a slick pass by Manotas right in front of Atlanta’s goal that would’ve added to the Dynamo’s lead.
Seitz made another save on a low shot on goal in the 64th minute. In the 73rd minute, Manotas fired a rocket on goal, but Guzan made the save.
Houston kept pushing until the end, as Romell Quioto couldn’t quite catch up to a pass deep in the box from Elis in the 90th minute, and then Elis booted a ball wide of the goal later in the 90th minute.
The Dynamo remain undefeated in home season openers, improving their record to 6-0-1.
Up next, the Dynamo host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 5 p.m. on Saturday.