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Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Three Things We Learned: Houston Dynamo 4, Atlanta United FC 0

The Houston Dynamo kicked off the 2018 season with an empathic 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC. With all four goals coming in the first half, La Naranja where able to manage out the result while looking just as dangerous in the second half.

Here are three conclusions from the opening match of the season:

1. A message to the rest of the league

Don’t sleep on this team, because they will make you pay. Atlanta United learned that lesson the hard way early as goals one, three and four capitalized on defensive mistakes by the Five Stripes.

The Dynamo were ready to pounce – and not just “La Pantera" Alberth Elis. They played inspired, showed intensity and personality throughout the ninety minutes of play.

During the week, head coach Wilmer Cabrera said the Dynamo are a team that will do their talking on the field. The message they showed on Saturday, according to Cabrera after the game, was that “we’re a hard-working team that is going to give it all for 90 minutes and are going to try to explode and impose our soccer – that sometimes will be simple, other times pretty and other times convincing.”

2. Depth already paying dividends

One of the few downsides in the match for the Dynamo was the injury of 2017 team MVP Juan David Cabezas early in the first half. The Colombian defensive midfielder went down with a left quad injury, prompting Salvadoran midfielder Darwin Cerén to make his debut in the 15th minute.

The change did not derail the way the Dynamo were playing – it was as if changing one part for another – and Cerén even went on to score late in the first half. Kevin Garcia also had a solid performance, starting at right back for the sidelined A.J. DeLaGarza, against one of the most punishing offenses in Major League Soccer.

And of course, bringing polished veterans off the bench like Arturo Álvarez and Romell Quioto is a sign of a team with plenty of competition. Not to mention Boniek García had a great day leading the midfield and picking up an assist, filling in for the suspended Tómas Martínez.

The Dynamo's depth in 2017 helped carry them to the playoffs, and it looks like it is already paying off this year.

3. Dynamo collect first three points

One of the keys to the Dynamo’s success in 2017 was picking up positive results early in the season. They're 1-0-0 to start 2018.

To put it simply, the team showed up and got the job done. They were well-prepared, clearly knew what their game plan was and what roles each player had in carrying it out effectively.

The Dynamo made a living off of getting results at home last season, finishing 12-1-4 in regular season play. They'll be looking to build on their season opening win as Vancouver Whitecaps FC come to town on Saturday (5 p.m., TICKETS).