The Houston Dynamo wanted to beat FC Dallas. Badly. It was clear from the beginning. They threw everyone forward and looked like a rejuvenated team in the first 15-20 minutes, pressing high and sending up to five players into the box at a time. They were playing for pride against their biggest rivals, trying to ruin Dallas's quest for the Supporters' Shield.
There were times during the game that they looked capable of stealing points yet again from their in-state adversaries. But FCD's firepower and some questionable defending would do them in by the end.
Michael Barrios scored two very pretty goals and Mauro Diaz converted a penalty in the second half, securing the full three for Dallas, who, after Toronto and Colorado both lost this weekend, now sit five points ahead in the Shield race. The Dynamo folded in the second half for the millionth time this season, again helping another team gain ground in the standings.
That two minute span that saw FC Dallas steal the lead basically sums up the Dynamo's season.
Anyway, here's an analysis of Houston's goal:
The play begins with Sheanon Williams running down a ball in the corner:
FCD's defenders jog back to form a defensive line in the 18-yard box as Williams chases down Cristian Maidana's diagonal ball.
Mauro Manotas is the only other Dynamo player in the picture. That will change.
Williams dribbles along the touchline for a bit before laying it off to Boniek Garcia, who is on the ball now. Five more Dynamo players have joined the attack.
They are in a line across the edge of the final third: Jalil Anibaba, Eric Alexander, Maidana, and Alex. Dallas players shifted to the corner to defend Williams, so there is a gap in the right channel. Maidana (circled in blue) will look to take advantage of it, with Kellyn Acosta (red arrow) tracking him.
Maidana has plenty of room to run into, and Garcia sees that, as the Honduran plays a well-weighted pass into the space. Acosta will chase Maidana.
After making the pass, Boniek moves into space. He will get a one-touch return pass from the Argentine:
Now Boniek has possession in the corner. His first thought will be a cross, because that's the natural thing to do in that situation, but he decides to hold the ball, as there aren't enough players in the box. Manotas won't be winning many aerial duels, and Alexander (yellow arrow) will be a late arrival.
Instead, he'll be looking for second and third runners. Ricardo Clark is a specialist at making those runs, but he's on the bench, so somebody will have to take his place.
Williams (circled in orange) makes a very good run in front of Boniek, but he is not found. That's okay, because that run will drag defenders closer to the goal and open up space at the top of the box for somebody else. This is good recognition by Garcia.
Alex (circled in yellow) will be the one who fills that gap. He's got loads of space to test Chris Seitz.
Alex receives the pass and faces pressure from behind him, but is able to step away from it and stick one into the top corner on his left foot. It's a moment of brilliance from the Brazilian, and shows that the Dynamo are a better team when they have him and others joining in the attack.
The local Dallas announcers praised the Dynamo's off-the-ball movement for the entire game, citing that when talking about why Houston dominated the game for the first 20-30 minutes. This is a perfect example of that, as it is Williams's run that gives Alex the space to let off a shot.