HOUSTON - The task was daunting, but Alberth Elis was up for it.
With the Houston Dynamo facing a 3-1 loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy in the 80th minutes, “La Panterita” did what he does best: use his blazing speed and athleticism to be a nuisance and a pest on the opposing defense.
It paid off.
In a span of 10 minutes, Elis turned what look liked the Dynamo’s second home loss of the season into a 3-3 draw with his eighth and ninth goals of the season.
It’s no surprise, then, to hear Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera call Elis one of the best players in MLS.
“He’s 21 years old. With that speed. With that passion to play. With that desire. He’s good in the air. He likes to go 1-v.-1. He just needs to continue maturing and maturing,” Cabrera said. “The team is better when Alberth Elis is on the field.”
On Wednesday, it started with a drawn penalty in the 84th minute, which Elis converted. But there was no panther prowl celebration after the goal. Instead, Elis ran after the ball to get the game rolling again, but Galaxy keeper Clement Diop had other things in mind.
Diop snatched the ball before Elis could get there and the two tussled back and forth for the ball. The way Elis was playing, is no surprise the Honduran international wanted to get the game started again, because just four minutes later Elis completed the comeback.
On the Dynamo’s 14th corner kick of the night, Elis out-jumped everybody to head home the tying goal. The goal was not without passion. After scoring, Elis ran as he let out a passionate primal scream before his customary panther prowl celebration.
“He’s an animal,” Dynamo midfielder Tomas Martinez said of Elis. “He’s fast and his speed up top helps this team.”
Elis said his two goals are his way of making amends for missing the scoring opportunity late against New York City FC in the Dynamo’s last game.
Elis, who’s on loan from Liga MX side Monterrey, adds that he thinks he’s adjusted to the league well, adding that MLS is a league “where my skills fit in well.”
The scary part about Elis is how much better the forward can still be, something that’s not lost on Cabrera.
“We need to be patient with him because he’s going to make a lot of mistakes. But at this point it’s fun to watch,” Cabrera said. “And I’m totally sure that any team in this league would love to have Alberth Elis on their roster.”