Memo Rodriguez - Houston Dynamo - celebrates a goal vs. Vancouver

Heading into 2019, you’d be hard-pressed to find any pundits putting Memo Rodriguez’s name in their Golden Boot projections for 2019, let alone the Houston Dynamo’s first-choice starting XI.

Yet, the Dynamo Homegrown sits jointly atop the MLS goalscoring charts – along Seattle duo Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz – three games into the season. His play has surely given head coach Wilmer Cabrera plenty to think about as he puts together his next lineup.

OK, so Week 3 isn’t even over yet and the season is a long one, but it’s hard to argue Rodriguez doesn’t deserve some dap. Not only was Rodriguez’s brace decisive in a 3-2 win Saturday over the Vancouver Whitecaps (for more on that, check out the video above from Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle), but last week he bagged an AT&T Goal of the Week award and the equalizer in a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact

Rodriguez’s outburst has been a long time coming for both him and the Dynamo. The 23-year-old academy product signed for Houston following the 2014 season, but spent most of the year on loan in Charleston. He was waived by the team a year later.

Despite that setback, Rodriguez actually stayed with the Dynamo organization, becoming one of the first players to benefit from the foundation of Houston’s USL affiliate, Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. It was there he linked up with current head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who helped to unlock his potential as he bagged nine goals across 30 USL games in 2016.

Cabrera’s trust in the Houston-area native was strong enough that he brought Rodriguez with him when he made the move up to Houston before the 2017 season. Though Rodriguez saw just 326 minutes of league play, he flashed his potential by scoring two league goals and another in the U.S. Open Cup.

Rodriguez’s minutes doubled almost exactly (645) in 2018, and though he scored just one league goal – a late winner against the LA Galaxy – he caused fans to take notice with his play in the Open Cup. In that competition, Rodriguez featured in every game and scored three goals as the Dynamo went on to lift the trophy. 

This season, Rodriguez has a great chance to surpass his combined 971 minutes in league play across the last two years. He’s so far played 153 minutes in three games (two starts), and his three league goals already match his total from the last two seasons.

Rodriguez will, of course, face stiff competition to keep his starting spot in the Dynamo attack. Cabrera has rotated his squad in the early season due to the Dynamo’s Concacaf Champions League commitments. But with their elimination from that tournament earlier this week, Rodriguez will face a tough challenge to keep his spot in the Dynamo’s fearsome front four from the likes of Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Tomas Martinez

With the way he’s playing now, though, he’ll be hard for Cabrera to ignore.