Houston Dynamo 3, Portland Timbers 1 | 2016 MLS Match Recap
The Houston Dynamo are absolutely loving the spoiler role.
On Saturday night the Portland Timbers became the latest playoff-chasing team to be stung by the Western Conference stragglers, falling 3-1 at muggy BBVA Compass Stadium as Mauro Manotas bagged a hat trick in a breakthrough performance for the 21-year-old Colombian striker.
Manotas opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the first half after a handball was called on Portland defender Liam Ridgewell, then netted two coolly-taken finishes in the late going after Diego Valeri had drawn Portland level.
After their woeful start to the season, Houston have improved dramatically under interim head coach Wade Barrett and have snatched important points away from Real Salt Lake, Sporting KC, Seattle, Toronto and San Jose in recent weeks.
Saturday's loss leaves Portland in an uneasy spot at the edge of the playoff places as they pivot towards another marathon CONCACAF Champions League trip for Tuesday's match vs. CD Dragón in El Salvador.
- 34' – HOU – Mauro Manotas (PK)
- 51' – POR – Diego Valeri
- 73' – HOU – Mauro Manotas (Boniek Garcia)
- 85' – HOU – Mauro Manotas (Cristian Maidana)
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- BIENVENIDO MAURO: Manotas didn't get much of a shot under previous Houston head coach Owen Coyle; in fact, he didn't get a single start in league play until Barrett took over. The talented youngster has now started six of the Dynamo's last seven matches, during which time he's notched four goals and an assist. Notably, Houston are 3-1-2 in those games.
- TIMBERS' TRAVELING TRIBULATIONS: Portland were one of the league's best road teams in their 2015 MLS Cup-winning campaign. But they've suffered greatly away from Providence Park this year: They're now 0-9-6 on their travels. As they clutch one of the West's last postseason slots, it doesn't bode well that they play two of their last three league games on the road.
- BARRETT ERA AT HAND? It's hard to think of what else Houston's interim boss could do to stake his credentials for earning the job on a permanent basis. The Dynamo were defensively sound, but limited going forward in his first few matches in charge, but on this occasion they showed a welcome evolution towards a more fluid, proactive attack.
Dynamo about to be 4-4-7 with an even goal differential under Barrett. Were 3-7-4 -2 under Coyle. Better results & aesthetics IMO. #HOUvPOR— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) September 25, 2016