Only four teams remain unbeaten in MLS this season, and odds are you've heard plenty about three of them. LAFC and the Seattle Sounders are dominating headlines through effervescent attacking play, and Toronto FC have been oft-mentioned as well, thanks in large part to their lavish new acquisition Alejandro Pozuelo.
The fourth team is flying under the radar, picking up points but not much buzz. The Houston Dynamo have enjoyed an outstanding start to 2019, with three wins and a draw after four matches, behind stars Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis.
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera believes the fast start is down to the right blend of continuity from years past, and shrewd offseason acquisitions.
“We’ve added players with a good mentality and quality," Cabrera told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. "With the players we have had the past three years, we’ve combined a good team. The adjustments haven’t been difficult because we didn’t bring too many players.”
Houston have not exactly had an arduous opening schedule, but that's about to change.
It starts this weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes (3 pm ET | Univision in US , MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada). Following that match, the club face the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders, all teams who have enjoyed similarly fast starts to 2019.
“It’s going to be very challenging, but a good test for us to see how we’re going to start dealing with games every weekend against very good opponents," Cabrera said.
The Quakes picked up their first win of the season last weekend, a resounding 3-0 triumph over the Portland Timbers. The victory gives San Jose some much-needed momentum for Matias Almeyda and his man-marking system.
“They’ve been trying to understand the concepts of the coaching staff and adapting," Cabrera said. "That takes time, that takes mistakes. They did very well against Portland. That’s dangerous for us, they’re more confident and believe more in what they’ve been doing. They’re going to try and reinforce that, prove that the game against Portland wasn’t just one game.”
Houston will be able to call on midfielder Juan David Cabezas this weekend, a vital player for Cabrera's Dynamo who has yet to make an MLS appearance this season after picking up an injury during Concacaf Champions League play. Cabrera also added that while DaMarcus Beasley is currently ahead of schedule to return following knee surgery in March, he certainly won't be available on Saturday.
Another player available is Memo Rodriguez, who has enjoyed a flying start to the season with four goals in four games. He has a long relationship with Cabrera, dating back to their days together in USL at Rio Grande Valley FC in 2016.
“I’m really excited and happy for him," Cabrera said. "I knew him when we worked at RGV, he was very effective with that team. I decided to bring him to the Houston Dynamo and he’s been doing better and better every season. This season he’s excelled and he’s scoring goals. I’m happy for him but we expect more — because he has that quality.”