After establishing himself as a double-digit scorer in last year's MLS debut, Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis, says he wants to ranks among the league leaders in Year Two.
In 2,035 minutes of action – and four games in Houston's surprise playoff run – Elis netted 11 total goals (one postseason) and four assists.
The Dynamo saw fit to execute the loan-to-buy option on Elis’ contract in December, and the forward (previously with Liga MX side Monterrey) is now a fixture for The Orange. And returning to the Dynamo is exactly what he wanted.
“We had talked about it before. I told them that I was happy here and that I wanted to return,” Elis told MLSssocer.com in a phone interview from Tucson, Arizona, where the Dynamo are wrapping up preseason training.
“So they exercised the option to buy and I’m happy to be here. I’m overjoyed and motivated and hopeful that this season will be better than last year.”
The Honduran international logged the fewest minutes among Houston’s top three scorers last season, but still managed to tie for second with those 11 goals.
Yet with Los Catrachos knocked out of World Cup qualifying by Australia in November's playoff, that commitment will be lighter in 2018. Which means more games with Houston for the 22-year-old.
“The more games I play, the more opportunity I have to score goals and grab assists,” Elis said. “I think that’s gonna be good and fundamental for the team. And for me, I think there will be less wear-and-tear [on my body], but I still have to prepare myself for whatever comes.”
Elis acknowledges that the experience gained will only help him improve, but cautions that he won’t be able to surprise teams like he did last year.
In that regard, Elis says he’s working hard to improve his speed and strength while retaining a focus on the technical aspects of his game, so he can become a better finisher in the box.
Elis’ combination of skills and physicality make him a versatile forward, one who can play winger or as a classic No. 9. Last season, he was mostly deployed on the right wing, but with striker Erick "Cubo" Torres having moved on, a void has been left at the top of Dynamo coach Wilmer Cabrera’s 4-3-3 formation.
“I can play both positions well,” Elis said. “The most important thing is helping the team any way possible. In time coach [Cabrera] will decide where he prefers to play me.”
No matter where Elis lines up, La Pantera will be on the prowl.