The Houston Dynamo's chase for the playoffs took a hit Saturday night when they failed to pick up a point in rainy New England, as they remained a point back of the Seattle Sounders, before Seattle's match, for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
The 2-0 Houston loss was interrupted twice by weather delays, meaning it didn't finish until after midnight for Revolution fans; as a result the amount of supporters at Gillette Stadium dwindled to barely any by the end. But those who stayed through the unfortunate conditions were rewarded by the home team.
The Revs' winner came courtesy of Portuguese center-back Jose Gonçalves. The goal was a magnificent volley to the near post, made even more impressive by the fact that he managed to squeak it through the mass of bodies in front of the net.
The crucial score wasn't just about the volley, though. It was on a set piece, with marking mistakes and good set piece strategy playing a big role.
So in this week's edition of Dynamo Film Session, we analyze how it happened.
The set piece was a corner, in this instance. Lee Nguyen takes it for New England from the right side. Daigo Kobayashi (circled in yellow) will step forward as a short option for Nguyen.
He takes the short option. Kobayashi will pass it back to Nguyen for the cross.
In the box, you can see that New England have five people aside from the player right on the edge that isn't in the play. Two are near the six-yard box with two Houston defenders, while the other three are matched up with two other defenders, creating problems for the Orange.
Nguyen sets up for the cross.
The two Revs that were closer to the goal make runs even closer. They are marked by four Dynamo defenders, while the three attackers that set up farther away have only one on them.
The ball is a perfect one. It arrives right in the mixing pot in front of the goal, making things as tough as possible for goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Houston actually wins the aerial battle, with CB AJ Cochran attempting to head it clear.
Two Revs decide to remain closer to the top of the box: Gonçalves (green line) and Scott Caldwell (outside the red circle). You see one player in orange is right next to the former, and should stay near him no matter what.
Cochran's attempted clearance is a fail, as it flies straight up in the air. Gonçalves is under it.
He would bury a volley and give his club the lead for good. This is simple set piece strategy by New England, to have a couple attackers by the goal to try and head in the first ball and a couple back a bit two pounce on the second.
Lee Nguyen's ball was absolutely perfect and Gonçalves's finish was brilliant, but Cochran's clearance should've been better and the scorer was not marked at all. Defensive mishaps played a part, but this was more about New England's flawless set piece.
(Photos from mlssoccer.com, linked above).