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Dynamo fall hard at home despite three-headed monster starting

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Manager Owen Coyle went with a very attacking lineup, but it wasn't to be in the Dynamo's 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, effectively damaging their playoff hopes beyond repair.

Will Bruin and the Dynamo dropped a crucial game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Will Bruin and the Dynamo dropped a crucial game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It's safe to say that the Houston Dynamo's playoff hopes are all but destroyed. After a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake Saturday night, the Orange dropped to a tie for eighth in the conference, six points out of the postseason and only one point ahead of last-place Colorado.

So yeah, not looking great for Owen Coyle's side.

But while the result wasn't what they were looking for, the Irish manager did send out his best team. The three-headed monster of Will Bruin, Giles Barnes and Erick Torres started along with Brad Davis on the wings and up front, while central midfield consisted of a pairing universally used in 4-4-2 formations: one holding mid and one attacking mid. Nathan Sturgis played in the hole while Ricardo Clark advanced forward.

Coyle did what he could in terms of player selection, but it all comes down to execution, and that didn't happen. The offense had 13 shots but only five were on net. The only goal scored was on Davis's penalty-kick, which shouldn't have been given.

RSL dominated possession, having the ball 55 percent of the time. If you do that, it's pretty likely that you'll win the match. The main reason for Houston's lack of possession was the inability to secure it and then actually keep in the midfield. The forwards didn't track back and help keep it nearly enough, shown by their lack of passes.

Here's how Bruin, Torres, Barnes and Boniek Garcia passed the ball, per whoscored.com:

Player

Passes

Pass accuracy

Will Bruin

21

71%

Giles Barnes

11

91%

Boniek Garcia

14

64%

Cubo Torres

10

80%

Garcia came on for Torres at half-time and was a bit more effective passing–he was on pace for more than Bruin, who played the full 90, and had already surpassed Barnes, who also played the entire game–but struggled with accuracy, only completing 64 percent of his passes.

This is something that really affected the Dynamo. When you don't have possession, you can't score. It's as simple as that.

Barnes didn't even play forward. He was a left midfielder, and still he wasn't involved in the game whatsoever. Why these four dynamic attackers did not participate is beyond me.

Brad Davis participated. He made 38 passes, most of anybody on the team. He was also the man responsible for a good portion of Houston's 20 crosses.

Maybe the 4-4-2 formation wasn't the best of ideas. Barnes seemed to not be interested in playing winger:


Barnes is number 10. That's not where you would expect a winger to be playing. That's where a forward should play.

If he was just going to make himself a forward, why didn't the Dynamo simply play a 4-3-3? That would put three people up top and keep Davis, Sturgis and Clark together in midfield. It would also support more counter-attacking play and less possession. So that's something to think about for next week's game against the Union.

It also could have been a mid-game adjustment. RSL was dominating possession in the first-half and Barnes was basically playing forward, so why not switch formations?

All in all, this was a match that left plenty to be desired for Dynamo fans. But if all goes well the next six games, it may not be over yet.