HOUSTON - JULY 21: Mac Kandji went all beast-mode on the L'Impies defense. Here, you can clearly see Kandji's determination as he heads upfield with the ball for his second goal on the night. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston set out with something to prove at the start of the first of three home games last week. The team needed quality performances, solid defensive effort, and most of all they needed all nine points to put themselves in the mix for the home field advantage in their MLS Cup campaign. After capping two performances where officials graced the Dynamo by awarding two red cards, one for each of the first two home games, thus giving the team a man up advantage. We still hadn't seen what we really wanted to see, though, and that was how the Dynamo would fair against an actual 11 man squad for an entire ninety minutes.
Well, we all received our wish with the third game in seven days at home in our beloved Cage. No red card was issued, and yet the team showed they can prevail and be just as dangerous offensively even against eleven men. Yet, I am a bit concerned to some degree by how sloppy the offensive buildup seemed for a very long span in the match. Sure, I'm happy with the three to nil throttling of L'Impies, but it didn't feel like a 100% win for the team.
Montreal had multiple early chances, and then seemed to lose a bit after Kandji's first of two goals in the seventh minute of play. My question, though, is why in the world the L'Impies had any chances at all? It's become trend for the team, an attitude or mental thing, but they cannot seem to put the pressure on from the whistle. Why is there some kind of adjustment time needed every game it seems? Well, actually, I have an answer. Follow after the jump.
I mentioned this in a comment in one of the other stories posted about the last game, heck it might have even been in the Game Thread against the Sporks. Something I've noticed, especially lately, is Dom has played a bit of figure out the defense and how they are playing the Dynamo at the beginning of games. Once he sees what is being thrown at the team, he calls for the adjustments and the team responds accordingly. I, for one, am perfectly fine with this strategy.
I have always said it is far easier to exploit an opponent's weakness while playing to your strengths, than to protect your weaknesses and try to defend your opponent's strengths. Play up to your potential, not down to your opponent's tactics. This is what I've seen from the Dynamo the last three games, and while I may take on a pissy tone at the lax defense here and there, I am satisfied by what I've seen.
Over the last three games in this pivotal home stand, we pulled a full nine points out of the pot. We took games against DC United and the Sporks, the two top teams in the East, and then we took another game from the L'Impies. This game was special because one of my favorite players to watch, Macoumda Kandji, went and had himself a brace which really could have easily been a hat trick were it not for an absolutely amazing saving play by the L'Impies Shavar Thomas.
Yeah, that's right, Mac Kandji has himself two goals on the night. Sure, he wasn't stellar for one percent of the game, but what I love is how he is creating chances. He is putting pressure on the defense. He is pressing up, like a forward should, but he's also forcing the issue. But this game wasn't just about Mac showing he should remain a Dynamo fixture for at least a couple more seasons...
The most beautiful highlight of the night was off a Corner Kick. For the first time in a significant number of games, the Houston Dynamo scored off a Corner Kick. Thank you Brad Davis. Thank you Bobby Boswell. I've stated minor concerns prior to this game about how the Dynamo had seemed to lose their bread and butter, and eventually how this might come back to bite them in the collective rear-ends.
Hah. So, I guess they saw fit to make me look the fool? Yeah, they sure did. Bobby Boswell connected with a picture perfect snap header off one of the best Brad Davis corner kick services in quite some time. Thank you Boz and Davis. Thank you very much. I needed that one. I needed to see you two perform the tried and true, and show me the bread and butter was still just as alive and well as it's always been.
Oh yeah, and the L'Impies? Those few chances they did have? Never materialized into anything except for Tally "Brickwall" Hall saves, cuz that's how we do. And before I forget...
Did I mention the Dancing Bear, Will Bruin, notched yet another assist? Yeah, that happened, too. I've always loved watching Bruin in the run of the play, but lately he is finding ways to involve himself at the expense of his quest for most Dynamo goals in a single season. I won't complain, though, as I love how he is injecting himself in almost magical ways.
Keep it up, boys. There are plenty more games to assert your dominance. We will happily watch every one of them.