The Houston Dynamo got off to a good start against the visiting Philadelphia Union with Mauro Manotas once again getting on the score sheet – something that should be a surprise to no one at this point. Then the defense switched off and the Union equalized. The Dynamo started the second half with plenty of energy which produced a number of chances to score in a short amount of time, but a controversial decision to send off Tomás Martínez was a turning point. The Union then seized control and were able to score two more putting the game out of reach before the final whistle.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) Let’s start with the most obvious talking point from this game and that was the decision to show Tomás Martínez a red card for serious foul play. We could talk about a lot of questionable calls, but I want to focus on this one because it was a turning point.
Unbelievable that anyone (even an #MLS ref) could watch this on Video Review, and give Tomás Martínez a straight red card. People said Video Review was all about getting the calls correct.....instead there are just even more shocking and unacceptable errors. #HOUvPHI #VAR #NoVAR pic.twitter.com/reb5mR10o4— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) July 26, 2018
Looking at it over and over, it looks like Martínez and Auston Trusty are both going for the ball. Trusty gets to it first and Martínez steps on his foot as he’s second to it and his foot is now where the ball was. I think it’s a foul, undoubtedly, but far from a straight red card. Sending Martínez off derailed the Dynamo momentum and took away a player that had been pulling the strings of the offense. I don’t like to say results are typically on the referees, but this game was out of the young official’s control in my view.
2) Let’s focus on some of the good we saw from this game. The Dynamo attacked very well. They moved the ball side to side, through the middle, out wide and found success in each of those areas. One very good example was the goal by Manotas. The play began with Adam Lundqvist finding Martínez running through the center. Martínez had little room to work with, but still got the ball to Manotas who did a nice 1-2 with Oscar Boniek García. This set up Manotas to score and it was a beautiful sequence. They moved the ball quickly and made off the ball runs which made it difficult for the Union to mark. The Dynamo attacked this way for most of the first half and through the second half until the red card. They showed a lot of energy for a team that’s played as many games in a short period as they have.
3) The Dynamo switched off on defense a few times tonight. Usually the Dynamo give up goals because they are sitting too deep defensively and they let a team hammer away until they get on the board, but the goals they gave up Wednesday night, aside from the penalty, were different in that they simply weren’t paying attention. On the opening goal Borek Dockal had Darwin Cerén closing him down and Alejandro Fuenmayor in front of him. Jared Watts was left marking two players behind him and wasn’t able to stay with Alejandro Bedoya. On the second goal, Boniek does not pressure a pass deep in the midfield which gave their playmaker, Dockal, the ball. Dockal cuts inside and sees the run of Cory Burke who slipped between both Jared Watts and Fuenmayor. The marking and communication needs to be better in these moments and they’re coming off a draw with FC Dallas where the defense played at a high level.
4) So what does this result mean? In the grand scheme, not too much as it was a loss to an Eastern Conference team with a whole lot of season left. Still, in the grind that is the Western Conference which the Dynamo belong to, every point matters. Wilmer Cabrera now has three starting players from this game ineligible to play against Portland (Martínez: red card, Fuenmayor and Cerén: yellow card accumulation) and he played a largely first team lineup against the Union. Portland will be the fifth game played in two weeks which means our players have seen a lot of time on the pitch lately without much time for rest between games. Who will Cabrera start against the Timbers? Reserves in a Western Conference game or tired legs? The Dynamo needed this win to make the Portland game easier to manage, but Cabrera will now have some tough calls to make.