The Houston Dynamo are at the bottom of the Western Conference after a 4-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Friday, with five points accumulated through six games. You can take whatever conclusion you want from that fact, but the main issue sticking out is the defense, which has given up 13 goals this season. It has struggled mightily in multiple instances, none of which were as prevalent as the ones in the Galaxy game.
If Owen Coyle can get the team working together, they will start finding success. But they can't be giving up goals like the second one they allowed against LA.
Here's a breakdown of Baggio Husidic's winner, and how it showed the above statement:
The goal starts with Cristian Maidana finding the ball in central midfield:
Theoretically, this is a simple play. Maidana will get back to the ball (he had just received a pass from Giles Barnes), make a quick turn and either find a teammate running forward or make a back-pass toward a center-back. There's not much else to it.
Multiple midfielders, including Husidic, are surrounding the play, but aren't putting significant pressure on Maidana.
Husidic steps up on Maidana as the Argentine takes another dribble, sliding in perfectly and putting it at the feet of Steven Gerrard (blue arrow), who finds himself with acres of space running forward.
For reasons unknown to me, nobody is in front of the Dynamo backline. The main reason for their defensive issues over the recent weeks has been the spacing between the defensive midfield and the back-four, and it shows again here. There needs to be someone already positioned in a spot where they would be able to put pressure on Gerrard, and not allow him to maneuver forward and pick out a pass.
Stevie G is good enough and experienced enough to be patient and wait for others to join the attack, then find a ball through to a teammate running in the space ahead of him. Without anyone there to stop him, the Liverpool legend will destroy the Dynamo defense.
Gerrard takes a few touches and ends up on the fringes of Zone 14, where five LA Galaxy players are running at five Houston defenders, with Ricardo Clark (13, circled in blue) chasing Gerrard. The high defensive line is good right now, but everyone in it has to be disciplined with their movements, because one ill-advised step forward or backward will mess everything up.
I'm a little concerned with the middle channels, where Husidic, Gyasi Zardes and Mike Magee are running. The three defenders in the central area have to communicate and mark someone. With Clark urging Gerrard to the left, it's more likely the pass will head that way, most likely in the direction of Giovani dos Santos. Jalil Anibaba (top of the screen) has to recognize this and get a head start on the incoming pass.
That's where the ball from Gerrard goes, and Anibaba has a late start in getting to it.
With the ball in that spot, everybody from LA running at the Dynamo take up small pockets of space in preparation for a cross. Husidic (circled in blue, near side) starts a trailing run behind the rest, but nobody in Orange appears to see it; that, or they disregard it, thinking that if the ball gets to him they will be able to quickly find him and cut him off.
That's never a good mentality to have as a defender.
Dos Santos gets a cross into the box in the direction of the many bodies in the center. Husidic is a yard or two away from the closest defender and is prepared to clean up any scraps. DaMarcus Beasley, the closest Dynamo player to the Bosnian, inches closer to him, seeing the danger he could cause on the back-post. Beasley isn't responsible for what happens at the top of the six-yard box.
Joe Willis starts backing up, noticing that the ball's trajectory is over his head. It will land in his six, and in this situation, it should be his ball.
The ball doesn't get all the way to the back-post, as Willis does a good job to get up and knock it down. The ideal situation for him now is a secure catch, but that doesn't appear to be possible. Therefore, he should punch it in the air towards either the sideline or over the bar. Anywhere other than right in front of him or straight down the middle would likely do the job.
Husidic is now by himself at the top of the six, waiting for anything to fall his way.
Willis fails to do anything substantial with the ball, knocking it down in front of him, which was the worst possible place he could have put it. Part of the reason for his mistake is pressure from Magee, who jumped with him and altered his aerial path. Still, he should have done better.
The reasons for this goal are wide-ranging and symbolic of issues seen throughout the match and the season: Defensive organization and discipline, a lack of communication across the backline, marking problems, the link and spacing between the defense and the midfielder in front of them, avoidable mistakes, recognition of developing plays, and, of course, Willis's lapse coming off his line.
I'm not sure what the solution is, but something needs to be done before the Dynamo sink lower into the vast depths of the MLS standings, and, eventually, put themselves out of playoff contention.