Andrew Wenger takes his opportunity with key early goal

HOUSTON - Andrew Wenger arguably made more of an impact in the first 52 seconds of Wednesday’s 3-1 win than the Montreal Impact did the entire game.

Wenger’s goal in the first minute of the game gave Houston control of the match and never relinquished it. The goal, Wenger’s first of the season, is the club’s third-fastest all time. Giles Barnes scored 40 seconds into a game in 2014 while Craig Waibel did it in 47 in 2006.

Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera called it a dream start to the game.

Wenger, who scored a team-high six goals last season along with Mauro Manotas, has seen his minutes decreased with the addition of forwards Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and the resurgence of Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres.

Cabrera noted that Wenger’s goal is representative of how he is coming along in the season.

“Andrew is coming on stronger every time now,” Cabrera said. “It’s his opportunity and he’s taking advantage of that opportunity. He’s been patient but also he’s given us results right now.”

The goal came off a short corner kick play that was improvised and not something in the Dynamo playbook, Manotas said. On the play, Manotas played a short corner to Alex, who passed it back to Manotas who one-timed a cross into the box. Wenger was open in the back post and buried the header into the back of the net.

“It was great for the team to get off to a great start against a team that’s from the north and probably didn’t like the heat,” Wenger said. “And it was also great for me. I’ve had a couple chances this year and haven’t been able to take them so it was nice to get one.”

Manotas, who had two assists in the game, jumped up in sync with Wenger and mimicked heading the ball.

“That’s something that one always does, hoping to give the teammate that same energy,” Manotas said of his synchronized jump after he crossed the ball. “But thank God we were able to score a beautiful goal and get the victory.”

With Elis, Quioto and Torres leaving the Dynamo to play in the Gold Cup, the scoring responsibilities now shifts to the shoulders of Wenger and Manotas. Of the two, Manotas has had more opportunities to play this season and the stats back that up. The Colombian has five goals and four assists on the season. But with more playing time on the horizon, Wenger is ready.

“I just hope that I can come in and fill their shoes and do what I do,” Wenger said. “I’m not any of those players but if we can continue to win games that’s the same result.”