On Saturday evening at PNC Stadium, for the fourth time in his MLS regular-season career, Darwin Quintero netted a brace.
This one was especially impactful, as it gave Houston Dynamo FC a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC and head coach Paulo Nagamura his first victory in three tries on the sidelines.
It was Quintero’s second goal, a long-range blast in the 50th minute, that left the 34-year-old Colombian attacker overjoyed in his postgame remarks.
“It's inexplicable. What one thinks or does on the field happens in thousandths of a second,” Quintero said, walking through the wonderstrike that evaded ‘Caps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal. “When I saw the ball there, I said to myself: ‘Let's hit it, see if it turns into something memorable.’ Thank God the ball found the back of the net. The most important thing is our teamwork, what the team did. The goals are always a team effort. Sebas [Ferreira] left it for me to hit it and now we are able to leave happy with a victory.”
Quintero also scored in the 33rd minute on a cushioned feed across goal from Corey Baird, who was picked out by Panama international midfielder Adalberto "Coco" Carrasquilla’s long ball. Both Quintero and Carrasquilla were starting their first match of the 2022 campaign, providing Houston a notable lift.
Playing as an attacking midfielder, Quintero was afforded the luxury to pick his spots moving forward.
“I think Darwin had a very good 70 minutes, started getting tired there at the end, so he needed to come off,” Nagamura said. “That’s what is great for our group, that we have players that understand that sometimes they are going to come off the bench, sometimes they are going to start and they are really responding well to that. Darwin gave everything that he had today from the start and as everyone saw, he had a big influence in the score tonight.”
Quintero is in his fifth MLS season, having spent the first two campaigns at Minnesota United FC after a storied Liga MX run at Club America and Santos Laguna. He’s averaged about a goal every 2.5 games played in MLS, a strong return as the latter stages of his professional career unfold.
This offseason, one of general manager Pat Onstad’s first moves was securing Quintero to a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) deal after being a Designated Player for Houston in 2020 and 2021. That decision, at least early on, is paying off.
Looking long-term, Quintero hopes his latest headline-grabbing moment is a sign of what awaits as Houston’s new era continues to grow.
“We had the mentality that it was important to get the three points today, that it was important for the morale of the team, for what we are trying to build, to get that first victory,” Quintero said. “We had played two good games, we just couldn’t earn the full three points or score till today, so I think this is very important for the group's confidence.”