There was some good and some bad to take from the Houston Dynamo's draw with the Seattle Sounders on Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium. The attack was promising (at least for part of the game) and the defense looked fairly solid, but the Dynamo gave away a couple points at the bitter end when Chad Marshall—one of the many Seattle players stationed around the box—scored a goal on the last kick of the game.
Fans are right to be angry—the Dynamo should never have given up a goal that late in the match. Here's why that goal happened and how it could have been prevented:
The play begins with yet another desperation cross sent in by Seattle:
Tyrone Mears's back-footed ball in marks the final attempt of the Sounders' push for a goal. The second this ball is cleared even just a few yards from the box, Ismail Elfath should blow his whistle, and the Dynamo surely know this. Anything will do.
It's a four-v-four aerial battle in the box. That obviously favors the offense.
The cross is a good one. It heads toward the top of the six-yard box, where Clint Dempsey is stationed, but David Horst is able to rise above and get good contact on a headed clearance. As long as the center-back is able to keep it out of the danger zone, his header will do the job. The Dynamo survive another day.
Oalex Anderson (39, circled in green) is positioned toward the left wing, ready to deal with the loose scraps. He is way too wide open.
Horst's clearance heads toward the corner, where Anderson chases after it. Leonel Miranda (circled in orange) is ready to defend him. The Dynamo's marking job is very poor right now, as three Sounders players are standing with a few feet in between them and a defender.
Again, literally anything apart from a corner will end this for Houston.
The Vincentian substitute reaches the ball and immediately skins Miranda one-on-one. The first instinct is to berate the Argentine for letting Anderson get by him so easily, but he should be given a pass here. The 20-year old is really creative on the dribble, and Miranda did well to keep the pressure on him.
More people in the box now for the Dynamo, but there needs to be more organization. Everyone should be marking one person, and they need to stick with them. After that, it's just a matter of adequately dealing with the next ball to come in.
The cross is a lower one from Anderson, and will land in that circled area. Horst isn't close enough to do much with it, so it's up to Joe Willis to decide whether to come for it or not.
It's crucial that the Dynamo defenders show discipline and stick with their man rather than instinctively charge the ball.
Willis makes the correct decision in going for it. The problem here is that he deflected it back towards the middle, rather than out of bounds or at least in that direction. Easier said than done, of course, but he could have done better.
Raul Rodriguez (black line pointing at him) will have the ball come right at him.
Rodriguez must not have expected the ball to come toward him, as he gets it caught in his feet and lets it slip through him in the direction of a wide-open Chad Marshall (circled in blue). Marshall can't be that open.
All it takes is a simple touch away from the Spanish defender. I understand it came at him fast and he didn't have time to clear it up the field, but he definitely could have done better.
Marshall finds the ball sitting in his lap and pokes it into the wide open goal to break the hearts of everyone in that stadium.
There are multiple issues at play here: The marking was sub-par, the ball shouldn't have been allowed to keep filtering in and out of the box, it should have been cleared earlier, and, of course, Rodriguez's error. Allowing these kinds of goals late in games can not happen, and in this league it will cost teams playoff spots. The Dynamo need to tighten up late in games.