There was some good and some bad for the Houston Dynamo on Saturday. The only thing that matters, though, is that they got those all important three points. To make the postseason, they'll have to do that a lot more over the next few months.
In the meantime, here's a look at Andrew Wenger's goal against Sporting Kansas City:
The play begins with Giles Barnes on the ball:
Barnes is defended by center-back Nuno Coelho, who is forced to come over after Chance Myers (circled on the far right) vacated his area. Myers and Soni Mustivar (circled in blue) are jogging back into position.
Cristian Maidana (white arrow) is drifting over to the left side to support Barnes. He is one of the three options the Jamaican has: a pass back to Maidana, a cross into the box, or a 1v1 battle with Coelho.
He goes with the latter.
Barnes does some fancy skill moves and almost loses the ball out of bounds, just barely managing to pull the ball back. Coelho is positioned in a way that is intended to push Barnes toward the corner flag, rather than on to his weak foot, an interesting strategy considering all the dangerous crosses he had sent in earlier.
The space behind the ball is vast. Mustivar and Myers–neither in a very good spot right now—are taking steps to cover it, while a Dynamo player at the back-post (most likely Cubo Torres, although it's hard to tell) signals for a cross.
He must be confident in his ability to beat Matt Besler in an aerial duel.
Coelho's ankles are broken by Barnes's moves, but with Myers quickly arriving on him, Giles makes the safe—and smart—pass back to a wide open Maidana. This is a good area for the no. 10 to pick out a ball.
Two Dynamo players—the closest one being Wenger—are in the box waiting for a possible cross.
With Maidana on the ball, Mustivar (circled in blue) is forced to step over to him, opening up the area behind him. Wenger (circled in orange) notices that and makes a picture-perfect run into space.
This is a really, really nice play from Wenger. This run—avoiding defenders while finding open space in the box quickly after it was vacated—shows tactical awareness that we really haven't seen from him this season. The hope then becomes that Maidana recognizes it. He does:
It's a very, very good ball from Maidana. He puts it on the ground directly to the top of the box, where Wenger is able to get to it ahead of Seth Sinovic, who gets a late start and never really has a chance at breaking up this play.
When Wenger gets there, he takes a very good touch ahead of him, giving him the room to make a play in the box.
At this point, Sporting KC's defense is clearly disorganized. Just look at the four players clustered on the near side, and the one defender standing in the box. This is Dynamo-level dysfunction.
Wenger finds himself open in a 2-v-1 situation. Besler is the defender, and, yes, it is Cubo Torres who is the other attacker.
With Wenger coming in a bad shooting area, Besler makes the correct decision to cover Torres rather than step up on the American winger. Tim Melia is expected to save most–most is the key word here–shots on the near post, and that's really the only shooting option Wenger realistically has here, so due to the likelihood of an easy finish for Torres should a square pass be made, Besler has to cover Cubo.
Wenger takes a shot first time, and it is an absolute screamer. He hit that ball hard directly to the roof of the net, giving Melia zero chance at getting to it. That's probably for the better because Melia's hands and fingers would basically be off if he did get something on it.
Here's a video of the goal:
It's a really nice goal from Wenger, and it gives the Dynamo a secure 2-0 lead against SKC, who are quietly falling deeper and deeper in the Western Conference standings. Mishaps like these are part of the reason why.
This goal proves a couple things from Houston's side of things. For one, it shows the value of having a chance creator like Maidana in the starting lineup. It also proves that Wenger's efficiency in the final third is underrated, and that the Dynamo's attack can be threatening to defenders when used correctly.
For Sporting, it is another example of bad organization and defensive mistakes that Peter Vermes needs to fix. If he doesn't, SKC could join the Dynamo in the Western Conference doghouse.