The Houston Dynamo need to start winning, and soon. If not, they'll be out of the playoff race by July.
Three things from their loss to the San Jose Earthquakes:
1. Full-backs attacked
Dominic Kinnear came out with a plan for the Quakes. He wanted to spray the ball out on the wings and get players running in behind the Dynamo defense, attacking the full-back duo of Jail Anibaba and Abdoulie Mansally. They created multiple chances by executing this strategy, and sent in multiple dangerous crosses after breaking Houston's high-line. Both of the outside backs had rough games as a result.
The first goal was emblematic of that:
Even Chris Wondolowski, the epitome of the goal-scoring forward and target man, gets wide and sends in a cross. And as I said in the three keys article before the game, anything can happen when a ball is played into the box.
2. No Cubo?
Interestingly, Owen Coyle decided to opt with Will Bruin in the starting lineup instead of Erick Torres, who, I thought, played well enough on Saturday to warrant another start. Torres would enter in the second half, but I am still wondering why Bruin got the start ahead of the Mexican.
The Dynamo often failed to get any sort of pressure on the Earthquakes through the middle of the field, and that's okay if you can make up for it with crosses, but Houston were unable to do that as well. Take a look at the team's passing chart in the area outside of the box:
Cristian Maidana, supposed to be a number-ten, makes almost all of his passes from out on the right wing. Bruin got basically no service all game, and while that's not directly a fault of his, Torres's high-pressure and ability to get on the ball make him more suited to start in this system.
Coyle should realize this, and adjust accordingly for the Real Salt Lake game this Saturday.
3. Away struggles
The Dynamo haven't won an away game since July 10th of 2015. That's problematic.
Of course, home-field advantage is very crucial in this league and teams are generally expected to get their wins in their own stadium, but when you can't get anything from away matches, it becomes an issue. Houston have to figure out how to win on the road, because even if they win every single home game for the rest of the season, they still may not make the playoffs.