Forward Mauro Manotas played a role in each of Houston’s goals as the Dynamo defeated Minnesota United 2-0 at BBVA Stadium on Wednesday to earn interim coach Davy Arnaud’s first win since taking control of the team in August.
Technically nine points away from the sixth and seventh-place teams in the Western Conference with five games left, Houston’s (10-15-4, 34 points) playoff hopes are still alive although mostly on life support.
They took those distant hopes into Wednesday’s game and played third-place Minnesota (13-10-6, 45 points) to a sluggish start through the first quarter of the match.
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But 10 minutes after Minnesota defender Chase Gasper was shown a yellow card for chopping down Oscar Boniek Garcia in the 26th minute, the Dynamo found a rhythm.
Through the 30th minute, Houston held a slight shot advantage (3-1) in a half that saw just seven shots recorded.
The Dynamo attack started questioning.
Their inquiry was answered with a 37th-minute goal.
It came when DaMarcus Beasley ran onto a cross from the right to his left side of the box. He tapped the ball forward then fired a pass towards the top of the goalbox to Manotas.
On Wednesday, the forward made his 50th career start at BBVA Stadium. He scored his 31st goal in those starts when he buried Beasley’s pass into the back of the net before a sliding defender could make a play on the ball.
Manotas proved to be a problem for Minnesota in the waning minutes of the first half but it didn’t end with his 37th minute goal.
In the 43rd minute he had a chance at another score, but the pair of defenders draped over him forced a hurried shot that veered wide.
Just seconds before the 44th minute expired, Manotas created another threat.
He advanced the Dynamo attack when he slid into a pass that put Christian Ramirez on the attacking foot with Ike Opara and Romain Metanire trailing. Ramirez tapped the ball forward then angled a right-footed shot past Vito Mannone to double Houston’s lead.
Minnesota nearly halved the lead in the 81st minute.
Angelo Rodríguez goaded Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis out from his box then delivered a pass to that Ethan Finlay tried to head into an empty net.
But Houston defender Alejandro Fuenmayor arrived to reject the shot at the last moment to help preserve the shutout.
Finlay seemingly succeeded when his 89th-minute shot found the back of the net, but a video review erased the would-be score.
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