In MLS, the formula for success is win at home and draw on the road. In some instances this doesn't hold true, but a lot of the time, the clubs who consistently achieve great things in this league follow this blueprint.
So when the Houston Dynamo only managed a 1-1 draw at home against the Seattle Sounders despite holding a 1-0 lead for almost an hour, it has to be considered a disappointment. But there are positives to take, and earning a point from a match with Seattle can never be that bad of a result.
Here are three other observations from that game:
1. The attack looked good—in the first half
I wrote about Andrew Wenger and how well he has done this season, and he continued his success against Seattle. Wenger, along with Cristian Maidana and other attackers, were constantly putting pressure on the opposing backline in the first half with crosses and incisive runs. The front five were active offensively and defensively, pressing high and winning second balls. They showed why the Dynamo have scored so many goals this season.
But in the second half—holding a 1-0 lead courtesy of a 35th-minute Giles Barnes goal—they went stagnant up front, sitting back and letting Seattle attack. The Dynamo produced basically nothing that really challenged the Sounders' backline:
That was Houston's passing chart in the final third from the second half. Disappointing, to say the least.
Completely unacceptable for the Dynamo to take their foot off the gas in the second half, must press the attack all game #HOUvSEA— Orange In The Oven (@OrangeInTheOven) April 10, 2016
If they keep up the energy and attacking enthusiasm in the second half, it's three points.
2. The backline got it together
There were plenty of questions about the backline entering this matchup—and they were well-founded, considering the amount of dysfunction at the back—but the quartet of Jalil Anibaba, David Horst, Raul Rodriguez and DaMarcus Beasley did well to shut down a potent Sounders offense. The full-backs joined the attack often and never were caught up the field, while the defensive midfield pairing of Alex and Ricardo Clark did well to cover the area in front of the defense.
Granted, Seattle never really made many splitting runs and were often idle up front, until, of course, later in the game when Houston parked the bus. Before that, though, Seattle struggled to find much in the final third. That's a credit to the backline.
3. Emergency defense
I've preached this before, and I probably will again, but emergency defense is too often overlooked as an important part of the game. When teams are defending for their lives in the final seconds of a match—as the Dynamo were on Sunday—they have to make sure to do as well as they can to cover all their gaps and get the ball clear, because the longer the ball pings around the box, the more chance a goal is scored. Points can be lost when clubs let one player run free or there's a poor clearance. Houston learned that lesson in a painful way against Seattle.
There was nothing about this Chad Marshall goal that signified deeper issues. I'll explain more in my Film Session piece, but the reason this goal happened was bad last-ditch defending. The Dynamo can't allow these type of goals late in games.