Mauro Manotas is one of the best forwards to ever play for the Houston Dynamo — second only to Brian Ching on the club’s all-time goals list. He’s been a staple as the club’s No. 9 since 2015, scoring 49 league goals in that time.
But with the Colombian limited because of an injury, the Dynamo haven’t missed a beat, scoring a combined eight goals in back-to-back wins.
Manotas came on for a 24-minute substitute appearance in a 5-2 win over Sporting KC, the Dynamo’s first victory of the year. On Wednesday night at BBVA Stadium, he wasn’t in the matchday roster and it didn’t matter.
Tab Ramos has talked about having options, true competition for spots and that again proved true with Ariel Lassiter coming off the bench to score a brace on his debut in a 3-0 victory over Minnesota United.
“He had a great game. Nothing that he did today surprised me,” Ramos said of Lassiter. “We brought him here because I know he has some special qualities, he can get behind defenders, and I think it'll be a matter of adapting to the league once again, he never got the consistency before. This may be the case where its two steps forward and one step back, but I think it's a great start. He’s on the younger side and I think we need to bring him along, but I’m really happy he had a good start.”
Lassiter was signed by the Dynamo on loan from Alajuelense in Costa Rica with an option to buy on August 17. The 25-year-old son of former MLS great Roy Lassiter previously played for the LA Galaxy, scoring three goals in 25 appearances across four seasons.
Lassiter said he returns to MLS with more confidence than when he left, thanks to a breakout season with Alajuelense.
“I went to Costa Rica and I think I gained a lot of experience there, played a lot, got a lot of confidence in my game so I'm just trying to come back and show the progress that I've that I've made and I want to continue that process,” Lassiter said. “My main goal is to continue to stay with the Costa Rican national team and look for a World Cup. So my main objective is to stay at the highest level possible and I think the Dynamo here and the players that we have and the coaching staff, they’re going to continue to push me into the right direction. And that's exactly what I want to do.”
Some might think a brace in a win on a club debut would be a dream for most players. But Lassiter said he wanted more.
“I was hoping to get three,” he said with a laugh. “Once I got that second one, I was looking for the hat trick. That doesn’t happen too often, but my main focus was to come in and bring a lot of energy for the team and to create opportunities.”
While Ramos said win No. 1 was brewing, after beating Sporting he said the next step was to prove that victory wasn’t a one-off. The response Wednesday night was emphatic.
“I think any win would have been a good win following a huge win on the road,” Ramos said. “But I think, in particular the way we did it without really suffering a lot today and we know that this league is long and there's a lot of games to play, but we can only live this moment here. And I think that the team reacted really well. I mentioned before that it's been coming, we’ve been playing this way we just weren't getting the results. And I think the team is, I feel it's getting better and better.”