The Houston Dynamo sure know how to entertain people.
They have found their attack these first three games of the 2016 MLS season, scoring 11 times despite missing two of their top attackers, Cristian Maidana and Giles Barnes, for part of that span. The Dynamo have been the talk of the league thanks to their goal-filled games; when you put their three scores together—3-3, 5-0, 4-3—it sounds like a tennis match.
But they have their problems. Defense has been a little bit of an issue, as the backline have a tendency to back off too much and open up space at the top of the box, and when the center midfielders aren't close and compact with them, the opposing team is given the opportunity to take the space given to them and attack from the area outside the box, or Zone 14.
That's what happened on Felipe's rocket from outside the box. Here's how:
The play starts with Raul Rodriguez's clearance of a Lloyd Sam cross bouncing back towards the top of the box, where two New York Red Bulls players are stationed:
The clearance goes toward center-back Connor Lade, who had pushed up in support of the many NYRB players who are positioned in the box, looking for more desperate crosses. Sacha Kljestan is next to Lade.
Andrew Wenger (orange arrow) is the first to pressure the substitute center-back. He, along with most of the Dynamo team at this point, is in the box ready to defend for their lives. At this point, there isn't really a clear backline. It's just a clump of players.
Lade settles the ball and finds himself without a ton of options. Everyone in white and red is marked by a Dynamo player, and he is forced to settle for a short pass to Kljestan, who is better equipped to create a chance.
I don't see a lot of problems with Houston's defense right now. It's not particularly organized, but that's to be expected after defending a cross with so many players in the box. They've covered their bases well.
Okay, so a lot of things happened here.
Kljestan got the ball from Lade, who then ran underneath him to find space for himself. David Rocha (circled in orange) steps up on his fellow center midfielder, who turns it onto his left, debating between sending it towards Mike Grella on the wing (which would basically reset the play) or playing it to Felipe (circled in blue), who is standing wide open outside the box. Rocha had been on the Brazilian, but left him to make sure Kljestan didn't have room to send a final ball or take a long shot.
DaMarcus Beasley, being the tactical thinker he is, points out to whoever is listening that Felipe is wide open. Rodriguez and David Horst appear to be preoccupied with Bradley Wright-Phillips, however, and Felipe is left open with a large channel to run into if he so pleases.
Not a good situation anymore for the Dynamo.
Felipe receives a pass and has a lot of room to turn. Wenger starts chasing him, realizing the danger of the situation, and Jalil Anibaba moves away from his post at right-back to help with this situation.
The defense is bunched up together in the middle. Someone needed to have moved the entire backline up—better a center-back than anyone else—and cover up the hole left in the area between the midfield and the defense. Felipe knows he has limited time, and acts fast.
Felipe moves it onto his right foot and sets up for a shot. He doesn't really have any other good options.
More Dynamo players step up to try and block the shot, but it's too little, too late.
He let it fly without any real threat of having it blocked. It was a beautiful shot and finish from Felipe, giving Joe Willis no chance at getting to it.
The main problem here for the Dynamo is the lack of communication from the midfield and defense. The two need to stay compact and prevent those large openings from appearing.
This has been a consistent problem for Houston this season, and should be high on the list of Owen Coyle's priorities at training on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how this will work on Saturday, when they play the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team that recently found the merits of playing two target strikers.