In Dom We Trust: Outdated Defensive Tactics?


Dominic Kinnear is one of the most decorated head coaches in Major League Soccer history. Kinnear boasts the honor of being 3rd on the Major League Soccer list of all-time wins, behind only Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders, and former USMNT head man and current LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. Kinnear has certainly earned his paycheck given the financial restraints and limited resources him and Dynamo CEO Chris Canetti are given to work with. However, from recent results, one has to wonder, are Kinnear's tactics outdated? Before I begin the discussion, this is not a post on why Kinnear should lose his job, because he shouldn't. Kinnear is one of the best, if not the best manager in Major League Soccer.

Our defense is not too great to begin with. Brunner, Taylor, and Ashe are having torrid seasons. The only defender that has looked anything close to consistent is Kofi Sarkodie, and even he is not at his best. Some Dynamo supporters are clamoring for Kinnear to give Cochran or Arena a chance to play, but the reality is that neither are ready at this point in their respective careers. Now I love this team, from the front office, to the squad, to the social media department, to the broadcast booth with Eddie Robinson and Glenn Davis, so naturally this is bit hard for me. (but necessary)

As we examine the skill-sets of Taylor, Cochran, and even David Horst, we find that they're big physical guys who are dominant in the air and are able to punish defenders for even thinking about taking them on. These guys however, are not very technically sound. Horst himself admitted at the beginning of the season that he was not a very technical player and that his game was very simple. Horst likes to let the other guys play flashy soccer while he does the dirty work and cleans up the mess. Neither of these three guys have the best touches, and it shows on the field. The game slows down when the Dynamo pass out of the back, it takes five or so seconds to control the ball when the emphasis of attack is switched, and by then it's too late. The opposing team's defense has already taken cover, and there's nowhere to go.

As I watched the DC United vs. Columbus Crew match-up from FedEx Field last weekend, I was extremely jealous as I watched former Cal Golden Bears and 2014 MLS SuperDraft #2 overall pick Steve Birnbaum make his debut. Birnbaum had all the tools in the bag. Technically sound, calm and composed, dominant in the air, and tactically aware. It was like watching a veteran do what he's been doing with 10 years of experience now. I'm at the point to where I would take almost any defender in the league via trade or re-entry draft.

Sure the Dynamo defense is strong and dominant, but in today's Major League Soccer, that's not enough to build a winning team. We saw evidence of this last week in the first goal the Dynamo conceded to Sporting KC. A lobbed ball was played to Eric Brunner at the back.

Brunner failed to control the back-pass and gave possession to Sporting at the top of the box. Brunner then made a very bad challenge that was lucky to escape further punishment from referee Juan Guzman. The play resulted in a goal. I get nervous when the Dynamo play out of the back, because to be honest, the back line has looked like a mid-level NASL team recently.

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