We constantly heard last week about how discouraging the Houston Dynamo's draw with Seattle was, but looking back on it after Friday's game with the LA Galaxy, it seems like a great result. A 4-1 loss at home to the Galaxy, which never really was in doubt beyond LA's equalizing goal in the fourth-minute, was very, very disappointing to say the least.
The backline was constantly obliterated by Giovani dos Santos and co., the attack never found a rhythm, and the Dynamo managed just three shots on target despite 58% possession. It was ugly.
Here are some other points:
All four goals scored by the Galaxy came at least partially due to a mistake by the Dynamo. The first goal came about when two defenders literally fell on top of each other, the second started with a bad midfield turnover and ended with Joe Willis deflecting the ball right to Baggio Husidic, the third easily could have been prevented by avoiding another turnover, better organization defensively and more effective marking, and on the fourth, the Galaxy needed just two midfield headers to break right through the entire Dynamo back-six.
All of them could have, and should have, been averted. The Galaxy only had one other shot on target the entire game, and that was emblematic of Houston's complete lack of defensive discipline and organization:
Jalil Anibaba's step forward on Emmanuel Boateng was bad-timed and pointless, and allowed Gyasi Zardes to move free on the wing, DaMarcus Beasley fails to deal with the ball effectively, and Raul Rodriguez is late in trying to block A.J. DeLaGarza's blast. It seemed like every Dynamo defender was off technically and tactically, similar to FC Dallas in week two.
Joe Willis did not have a good game in terms of shot-stopping—letting in four goals on five shots is never a good sign—but his bigger issue was defensive organization. He struggled to get the backline in the right positions at the right time and, although they didn't face many significant LA attacks, they never seemed right tactically.
It's puzzling, because this backline has barely changed all year and should have developed some sort of chemistry by now. In these instances, it comes down to coaching.
The Dynamo looked the best they had all season in the first 40 minutes or so of last week's game against the Sounders. They used a high-energy, attack-oriented press from up top to hold the ball in the offensive final third and disrupt the Seattle backline, which finally relented in the 35th-minute. But since then, we haven't seen it, and that's resulted in a lack of service to the attackers.
Aside from a short moment at the beginning in which Houston pressed everyone forward (and scored a second-minute goal), we didn't see that against the Galaxy, and it showed in their attack, which saw striker Will Bruin be a total non-factor. Here's his shot chart:
Not a single goal, shot on target, shot off-target or blocked shot. That's not good, fellas.
Stick with what you're good at.
3. Substitution patterns
Owen Coyle has surprised us before with his substitution patterns—particularly last week, when his defensive subs forced the Dynamo to sit deep and allow Seattle to attack—but he upped himself on Friday, putting on three players at one time in the 57th-minute.
There's a reason why you only see that in FIFA.
They can be considered offensive-oriented replacements—Cubo Torres, Leonel Miranda and Boniek Garcia came on—and those three are all good players to have on the field when you're chasing a goal, but he shouldn't have put them on at the same time so early. Putting three players on at one time—especially in just the 57th-minute—takes away options for injury substitutions and other tactical decisions. Not only that, Coyle should have changed formations and kept Will Bruin on the field with Torres, and making that sub later.
It was too early to to put those guys on. What he should have done was come up with a lineup similar to this one:
That lineup is not defensively sound. At all. This is something you use with 10-15 minutes remaining in the game chasing multiple goals, with the substitutions spread over a period of time.
Coyle failed to effectively manage the game, and while the Dynamo likely would have lost anyway, it's a concerning trend this early in the season.