Alberth Elis set up two goals in an MVP-like performance, and four different Houston Dynamo players scored before halftime in a stunning 4-0 rout Saturday of an Atlanta United side many have tabbed as a top Eastern Conference contender.
Andrew Wenger, Philippe Senderos, Mauro Manotas and Darwin Ceren all scored in the opening 45 minutes at BBVA Compass Stadium, and Elis forced Brad Guzan into three saves before the half mercifully came to a close for the visitors. Any hopes of a miracle Atlanta comeback were put to bed when Miguel Almiron's penalty struck the woodwork early in the second half.
Darlington Nagbe went only 61 minutes in his Atlanta debut, and Five Stripes defender Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez departed in the 39th with an injury. Houston lost midfielder Juan David Cabezas to injury in the 15th minute.
- 5' – HOU – Andrew Wenger | WATCH
- 23' – HOU – Philippe Senderos | WATCH
- 27' – HOU – Mauro Manotas | WATCH
- 45+5' – HOU – Darwin Ceren | WATCH
- The Big Picture: While this was an exceptional performance by Houston, the long view is about Atlanta’s nightmarish defending. Hyped by many before the season to join the ranks of MLS's elite, their 4-0 halftime deficit was completely deserved and suggests a roster that may be intrinsically unbalanced.
- Moment of the Match: One second, Gonzalez-Pirez looked to be handling a routine clearance. The next, Elis had slithered around him, peeled away the ball and driven into the right side of the penalty area, where he found Wenger for the opener. From that moment on, the Dynamo dominated and the Five Stripes looked well and truly rattled.
- Man of the Match: Somehow, Elis didn't score, but he was everywhere on the BBVA Compass Stadium pitch from the moment he worked Gonzalez-Pirez on the opening goal. After setting up Wenger earlier, another cunning ball to his wingmate ultimately resulted in Manotas's strike to make it 3-0. And he remained threatening enough after halftime to keep Atlanta from flipping the momentum in any meaningful way.