It was another game on the road and another loss for the Houston Dynamo as they have been the opposite of perfect away from BBVA Compass Stadium having lost all 5 of their outings outside of Houston. Their latest L comes against MLS newcomers, Atlanta United FC who pummeled the Dynamo 4-1. Wilmer Cabrera tried a different tactic, and Harrison Hamm wrote a great piece on it, and the team looked a mess. The defense looked out of place and by putting in defensive minded wingers the team had fewer opportunities to get up the field. The Dynamo are still 2nd place in the Western Conference following their 2 game skid on the road, but are tied with 2 other clubs on points and will face their toughest challenge on the road next when they travel to FC Dallas.
The player performances this week were generally negative as expected in a 4-1 loss, but weren’t too far from where I thought. I did think some players deserved more praise such as Oscar Boniek Garcia who had several big defensive plays, very good passing all over the midfield, and had key passes when he took corners.
The Top Performers:
DaMarcus Beasley, Man of the Match, (5.9) – Back-to-back Man of the Match performances by DaMarcus Beasley – unfortunately neither game was a win for the Dynamo. DMB was deployed as the left winger which was a surprise move by Cabrera. Beasley actually passed the ball pretty well for an attacking player and when he moved back to left back, but he never got too far up the field to make plays. He was also pretty average defensively as you’d expect since he spent a lot of time as a winger rather than his usual LB position.
Alex Lima (5.6) –Alex had some exceptional moments as he had one of the best chances on goal of the game with a shot from the corner of the 18 yard box, but it was pushed away. He also dribbled through the defense at times and created opportunities for others with key passes. While Alex was one of the bright spots on offense in this game, he didn’t look 100% as he allegedly is getting over flu-like symptoms.
SUB: Ricardo Clark (5.5) – Clark really didn’t play long enough nor did he do enough to merit being in the top 3 players, but one thing he was able to do was get up the field more than Andrew Wenger, the player that came off for Clark, and tried his luck getting the ball into the box.
Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera (3.3) – Cabrera’s game plan, which again Harrison outlined very well, was to get players behind the ball. The defense was not disciplined and gave Atlanta several goals and as the score went up, the more dangerous Atlanta looked. The thing is this game plan is pretty close to what I think the Dynamo do all the time on the road. They sit back, they get compact, and the offense struggles. The biggest difference is the defensive wingers which actually gets players back to help defend, but at the expense of some of the offense. But we learned that this strategy, for some reason, opens up more goal scoring chances for our opponent and doesn’t lend itself to creating offense.
The team really needs to play to its strengths and that is spreading out the field, playing balls over the top to counter attack, and accepting that we might get scored on, but we’ll probably score more goals too. This defensive approach and mindset on the road obviously isn’t working. Too often we’re concerned about turning the ball over which is fine, but we’re not a possession oriented team anyways so play that long ball even if it doesn’t work. If the issue is personnel, which it shouldn’t be, either get them on the same page or have a better Plan B for situations when the starters need rest.
The Rest of the Starters:
GK: Joe Willis (5)
DEF: Dylan Remick (4.4)
DEF: Leonardo (4.6)
DEF: Adolfo Machado (4.5)
DEF: A. J. DeLaGarza (4.3)
MID: Oscar Boniek Garcia (4.1)
MID: Juan David Cabezas (5)
FW: Andrew Wenger (4.1)
FW: Mauro Manotas (5.4)
FW: Romell Quioto (5.1)
FW: Erick “Cubo” Torres (5.3)