The Houston Dynamo got out to a dream start against their rivals Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park, but collapsed in the second half to lose 2-3. While the first half showed plenty of promise for a result away from BBVA, the tactics changed completely for the second half and SKC was able to regain the crowd and the points.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) The Dynamo were in control of the first half. They got an early goal off a mistake from the reigning MLS Defender of the Year and Mauro Manotas pounced on it beating the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Then the Dynamo had SKC chasing the ball in their own park. They passed accurately and passed the ball quickly which helped them move the ball from the back to the front and from side to side. This opened up space for players like Alberth Elis to run at the 18 year old left back Jaylin Lindsey. Then they were able to get a goal before halftime which gave their lead even more of a cushion. Meanwhile Sporting Kansas City was limited to trying to counter attack with the long ball which Houston defended very well.
2) As the score line suggests the first half was hardly the whole story. Old habits reared their heads again as sitting slightly deeper opened up the midfield for SKC while also taking away quick passing options for the Dynamo. Eric Alexander and Oscar Boniek García sat back more which created some space for SKC to gain possession and connect with their players out wide and through the center. From the moment the second half kicked off the Dynamo looked like a different team than the one that had earned a 2-0 lead in the previous 45 minutes.
3) Wilmer Cabrera made several tactical miscalculations. It was a mistake to take the foot off the gas in the second half when the Dynamo had Kansas City playing out of their comfort zone. Cabrera’s biggest mistake was bringing on Leonardo for Alberth Elis in the 81st minute. It was doubling down on trying to withstand chance after chance and it didn’t work. It might have worked had the Dynamo had more control of the midfield prior to the substitution, but it took another player away as an outlet to get the ball which resulted in SKC getting even more chances. Sitting back for stretches does have advantages, but this strategy has rarely worked for the Dynamo. For other examples look how deep the Colorado Rapids defended against us. We just kept hammering away until we got through. The same thing is true of Germany against Sweden in the World Cup. Germany, down a man, still had all the possession and chances late which saw them get a winner because Sweden struggled to get the ball away from their net. To see these games out we’ve got to possess the ball better and we were doing that in the first half, but couldn’t in the second.
4) So let’s put this loss in perspective. The Dynamo sit just 2 points out of the last Western Conference playoff spot which is pretty good considering they’ve been up and down with their results lately. That’s good news and should still provide optimists like me with a feeling that the Dynamo can turn things around even more. However, there are some big questions about this team because second half collapses on the road are becoming far too frequent.