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Dynamo Film Session: Whitecaps' final goal illustrates Houston's struggles this season

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While the final goal of Vancouver's 3-0 shellacking of the Dynamo didn't mean much (it came in second-half stoppage time), it represented one of Houston's main problems this season: defensive compactness, specifically in the center.

Robert Earnshaw (right) split the defense and headed in the final goal of the Whitecaps' 3-0 domination of the Dynamo.
Robert Earnshaw (right) split the defense and headed in the final goal of the Whitecaps' 3-0 domination of the Dynamo.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

On the final day of the Major League Soccer regular season, the Houston Dynamo didn't have anything to play for, unlike almost every other team in the league. I don't know about you, but I was expecting some of the players that haven't gotten a whole lot of playing time this season to get a start, considering this match didn't mean anything.

Memo Rodriguez, Mauro Manotas, Erick Torres, AJ Cochran, Zach Steinberger, Taylor Hunter and Rob Lovejoy are among the many players under the age of 25 that haven't gotten considerable time on the pitch this season, and, presumably, the players that would have a shot at grabbing a place in the lineup.

But alas, Owen Coyle used only one of these players (Torres) in the starting XI. The Mexican would exit in favor of Manotas in the 61-minute, while Lovejoy entered with only a few minutes remaining for Giles Barnes.

Aside from that and the absence of Brad Davis and Tyler Deric, it was essentially the normal XI on the field in Vancouver. This puzzles me, considering that one of the main needs for Houston this offseason is getting younger.

Anyway, the final 2015 edition of Dynamo Film Session will analyze the last goal the Whitecaps scored:

The buildup began on a 3-on-3 counter-attack for the hosts.

3-on-3 may seem even, but in this case, it's lopsided in favor of the offense. With so much space on the wings it isn't hard for the attackers to find room in the middle.

DaMarcus Beasley was caught up field, resulting in this break.

As two Dynamo players sprint back, Premier League veteran Robert Earnshaw sees Mauro Rosales getting open on the far side.

The players tracking back (one of which I presume is Beasley, the other I can't tell) have no chance at getting into the play with the pace of the attack.

The Argentinean receives the ball from the Zambian (Earnshaw was born in Africa but represents Wales internationally) and settles the ball with loads of time and space.

With the far-side defender forced to break off, the middle pairing becomes separated, creating ample space for a simple run towards the goal.

That space is taken by the 34-year old Earnshaw, who is smart enough to realize the opportunity for a cross.

Rosales knew exactly what his teammate was doing, judging by the quality of the ball he played in. It ended up finding the head of the completely-unmarked Earnshaw.

Given the advantage Vancouver had in terms of players on this rush, it's hard to completely fault the defense for allowing Earnshaw to have a free header from basically the best area possible.

But they surely could have done better in this instance.

Poor Joe Willis can only watch as the ball sails into the back of the net. The backup goalkeeper actually had a pretty good game, and there is no way to blame any portion of this goal on him.

Earnshaw's splitting of the defenders is something that the Dynamo have seen way too much of this season. Their center-backs have had about as good of chemistry as the USMNT's this season, resulting in too many one-on-ones that Deric was forced to face.

While this hasn't necessarily been the epitome of their problems this year, center-back pairings have been a big topic of discussion.

Defensive organization is something they need to fix for next season.