The Houston Dynamo struck early, sat deep and saw it pay off in snapping an eight-game road losing streak with a 3-1 win over Toronto FC Saturday night at BMO Field. Toronto had almost 70 percent of the game's possession, including a 10-minute stretch in the 2nd half in which they topped 90 percent, but Houston were clinical on the counter attack to move back into the Western Conference playoff places.
Tommy McNamara and Tomas Martinez produced strong finishes to left-side attacks in the first half for the Dynamo against a Toronto FC team that made seven changes from Wednesday's win over the New York Red Bulls. Memo Rodriguez made the decisive pass on McNamara's 4th-minute opener, while Adam Lundkvist delivered the cross that led to Martinez's toe-poke.
The halftime insertions of Jozy Altidore and Jacob Shaffelburg improved Toronto's tempo, but an outstanding solo effort from Houston forward Mauro Manotas – slaloming through and past four Toronto FC defenders as the only Houston player in the attacking half – only added to the Dynamo lead.
Altidore later scored his third goal in as many games since the Concacaf Gold Cup, heading in a Shaffelburg cross, but Toronto never managed to create clear chances after Laurent Ciman's header was ruled out for offside.
- 4' – HOU – Tommy McNamara | WATCH
- 23' – HOU – Tomas Martinez | WATCH
- 57' – HOU – Mauro Manotas | WATCH
- 75' – TOR – Jozy Altidore | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Two teams right on the cusp of the playoff picture bucked recent trends, with Toronto's fatigue and squad rotation a primary driver. For Houston, the defend-and-counter approach to a road game matched their strategy for much of the 2017 playoff campaign, while TFC should still be confident in their starters, assuming Alejandro Pozuelo's swollen ankle does not linger.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Houston's third goal seemed to sum the night up: Sitting deep defensively, Houston won the ball, exploded forward on the counter attack and capitalized on brutal Toronto defending … all while Michael Bradley watched from the halfway line, preparing to check in but unable to help.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Manotas. Houston's outlet for pressure all night, he may have been fortunate on his assist, but the goal showed his serious star power.
- TOR: Sat., July 27 vs. FC Cincinnati (8:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; TSN4 in Canada)
- HOU: Wed., July 24 vs. Club América (Leagues Cup quarterfinals) (8:30 pm ET | ESPN+, TUDN in US; TSN GO in Canada)