Texas Derby equalizer encapsulates Mauro Manotas' progress with Houston Dynamo

When Mauro Manotas joined the Houston Dynamo four years ago, he had a goal in mind: to leave a mark on the club.

Now, finally entrusted with a starting role after biding his time, the Colombian is blazing a trail up Houston’s all-time scoring list.

His 8th-minute strike against FC Dallas in 2018’s first Texas Derby match on Saturday was Manotas’ 34th goal across all competitions, which moves him into a tie for fourth with former Dynamo Giles Barnes on the club’s all-time scoring list across all competitions.

For comparison, it took Barnes 10,387 minutes to get his 34 goals. Manotas has done it in 5,398 minutes.

“I am very happy due to my achievements. I only speak on the field. When I came here four years ago, my mentality was to leave a mark, whether it be with title or goals,” Manotas said after the eventful 1-1 draw. “There are many that rate forwards with goals, since a forward that can’t score is not a forward.”

Since June 9, Manotas has scored in six of his last eight appearances across all competitions, and notched goals in six of his last seven starts for a total of eight goals in that span.

The goal against Dallas was also his 10th of the season, taking over sole possession as the team’s scoring leader. It also matches his career season high, a mark he set last year while mostly playing as a backup to Erick “Cubo” Torres. 

Entering the season, Manotas said he wanted to surpass his 2017 tally. Now close to accomplishing that goal, the 23-year-old striker has set his sights on breaking the club’s all-time regular-season goal record of 14 goals, which was set last year by Torres. 

If Manotas can notch four more goal across all competitions, he’ll surpass Will Bruin’s Dynamo record of 16 goals in one year. Aside from more playing time, how has Manotas upped his scoring this year?

He points to a conversation he had with head coach Wilmer Cabrera a few months back.

“Coach would criticize me that I wouldn’t score with headers,” Manotas said. “And since that moment I started training on that with the assistant coach and the results are coming to fruition, and I’ve been able to score through headers.”

Indeed he has. His strike against Dallas came when Manotas headed home a Romell Quioto cross. It was his second headed goal of the week after scoring one against Sporting KC in Houston’s U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win on Wednesday.

“He’s been getting better at headers, and in the last two games this week, he has scored off headers and he’s been working on it,” Cabrera said. 

“That shows his work ethic, his professionalism, and that he’s getting better. And we’re happy that he’s been able to accomplish scoring his 10th goal of the season, and we hope he can keep scoring because he’s been giving it his all.”