Houston Dynamo's "sharp" attacking trio race out to monstrous start in 2017

HOUSTON – MLS beware: There’s a three-headed monster in Houston.

On Saturday, that beast — made up of Erick “Cubo” Torres, Romell "El Romantico" Quioto and Alberth "La Panterita" Elis — scored a goal apiece to lead the Houston Dynamo to a 3-1 win over Columbus Crew SC, their second victory in as many games this season.

The Dynamo were out-possessed (40 percent to 60) and out-shot (7 to 14), but head coach Wilmer Cabrera doesn’t look at those statistics as closely as the main measure of the game: Goals.

“We scored three goals,” Cabrera said on whether being out-shot bothers him. “You can have 35 shots and zero goals. For me, the most important thing is that the guys are sharp, finishing and scoring goals.”

Two games in and Cabrera’s forwards are doing exactly that. Torres and Quioto already have two goals each this season, and all five of the Dynamo's goals thus far have been scored by the trio.

The trio line up in a 4-3-3 with Torres in the center and Quioto and Elis flanking him on each side. Turns out, that’s also how the trio is set up in the Dynamo locker room. That closeness could explain the understanding the three-headed monster is displaying on the pitch.

Elis credits his past relationship with Quioto — both are mainstays with the Honduran national team and spent time together with Honduran side Olimpia — and training sessions with Torres as reasons for the trio’s fast start and srong chemistry.

For “Cubo,” who scored again after failing to hit the back of the net in his first two seasons with the Dynamo, a unique celebration was in order, and he delivered.

Torres ran to the sidelines after his goal and began doing “the robot,” his signature celebration from his Chivas USA days. Torres joked with Alex — who earned an assist on the goal — in the locker room afterwards that his robot was oxidized, as it had been a long time since he’d done it.

“I had been wanting to do it for a long time now,” Torres said on his celebration. “In the first game I didn’t do it. This past week everyone was asking me why I wasn’t doing it. But thank God now I can celebrate with it.”

While the three-headed monster is attracting most of the attention, and rightfully so, Alex — who was named the Dynamo’s 2016 MVP — has turned out to be the engine that powers the machine. In two games, the Brazilian has three assists, but none prettier than his assist on Cubo’s second goal.

The Brazilian picked out Torres in space along the left channel and sent a booming cross-field pass right to the foot of the Mexican international, who settled the ball with a sublime first touch and ran at exposed Columbus fullback Connor Maloney before curling an authoritative finish into the top corner.

Alex’s performances in these past two games haven’t gone unnoticed by Cabrera, who calls him a classic No. 8, box-to-box midfielder who gives the Orange balance. On Saturday, Alex also put on a dribbling display in the first half, earning a round of applause from the fans at BBVA Compass Stadium.

“He’s a player that helps, defends, marks, bites and takes possession of the ball, and when he has it, is creative with it,” Cabrera said of his center mid. “He’s a special player. He’s a good passer. He can dribble. He can do nutmegs and he likes to score. He’s a complete player.”

Despite Houston’s fast start to the season, Cabrera wants his team to maintain their composure.

“I hope we never get too confident. Confident is good, but too confident is not good,” Cabrera said. “And I wouldn’t say ‘confident,’ I’d say ‘comfortable.’ We cannot get comfortable.”