It was a massive season for Houston Dynamo striker Mauro Manotas. In just one year, he has thrown his name into the hat of top MLS strikers.
With all the hype around Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney this season, one name that was often overlooked was that of Mauro Manotas. The Colombian striker nearly pulled off a 20-goal season for the Houston Dynamo and etched his name into the club’s history books.
After scoring 10 goals in 33 games in 2017, it was expected that Manotas would reach double digits once more in 2018.
However, not many would have predicted the goal total he racked up and the impact he had in the U.S. Open Cup run.
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Consistency was there all season long for Manotas. He never went more than four matches, in which he appeared in, without scoring a goal. Right from the start, he showed his form scoring four goals in the first six matches of the season. From there, he continued to score goals and finished 2018 with five goals in his final five Major League Soccer appearances. He never really suffered a drought, which is an invaluable trait for a center-forward.
Manotas’ four goals in six matches during the Dynamo’s U.S. Open Cup run was another testament to the impact he had. His brace in the final against the Philadelphia was perhaps one of the top individual performances in club history.
When Erick “Cubo” Torres left for Liga MX, Manotas was called upon to step in and fill the void left by the Dynamo’s top striker. It was not the easiest of tasks either, as Torres had scored 14 goals during the 2017 MLS season.
But the pressure did not seem to bother Manotas. In fact, it appeared none existent at times by the way the 23-year-old striker handled his duties. By the end of the season, there was no question as to who was now the team’s leader up top.
When the final whistle of Decisions Day brought the MLS regular season to a close, Manotas found himself just one goal behind Bradley-Wright Phillips in fourth place in the Golden Boot race. It was quite a remarkable achievement for a player who was not even close to the MLS legend just 12 months prior.
Sharing the fourth position with Gyasi Zardes of the Columbus Crew, Manotas’ 2018 tally had brought him into the spotlight as a top-five MLS striker. There was no question as to his goal-scoring ability, and the way he led the Dynamo in 2018 was notable despite the fact the Western Conference club failed to make the postseason.
This season will be remembered as a true breakout year for Manotas. With the possible departure of Josef Martinez in the offseason, the Colombian may be in prime position to further shock the league next year and win the Golden Boot.