The Houston Dynamo got their first regular season victory since their 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids June 9th. Last weekend’s 3-0 triumph over Minnesota United FC featured the Dynamo who were in command for the majority of the match. The Dynamo did not sit back as deep as they had and having Darwin Cerén rejoin the starting XI provided more room for the attacking players to push up the field. The Loons didn’t do themselves any favors as their offense lacked potency and only generated a single shot on target.
I’m adding an additional “player” to be rated and that’s the crossbar. Adam Lundqvist and Tomás Martínez both hit the top post and were denied even more goals so I encourage low scores. If the crossbar were to help us out by keeping opponents from scoring on our end, I would encourage higher marks.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) Philippe Senderos should not only be the Man of the Match, but Man of the Week after grabbing three goals in his last two games. That’s quality production if you’re a striker, but it’s exceptional if you’re a center back like Senderos. Apart from his scoring, he provides a stabilizing influence along the back which has helped Alejandro Fuenmayor develop into a capable central defender. He’s hardnosed and not afraid to go at it with big physical players like LAFC’s Adama Diomande. His distribution is also noteworthy. CBs are supposed to have high passing accuracies, and Senderos finished against the Loons with a 92.9% passing accuracy, but he’s not just moving the ball to an outside back or the defensive midfielder. He is doing that, but he’s also looking up and delivering penetrating passes to Tomás Martínez or Romell Quioto which helps us get a good start on a counter attack.
2) So much of what makes this team effective is our play on the wings utilizing Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. To me, they had puzzling games albeit very strong outings in general. Elis scored the third and final goal and also has an assist credit to Senderos. Quioto was given two assists and is now tied for first in the league for assists at 10. The two looked visibly frustrated at periods in the game though, Quioto in particular who at one point blasted a ball into the stands. His decision making at times does not always serve him well like when he was given a perfect pass by Tomás Martínez to one touch finish, but he took a long first touch and the shot was saved. Elis’s first touch also needs improvement as it sometimes gets away from him. Their passing was a lot better in this game and overall I’m nitpicking solid efforts by very talented players.
3) Tomás Martínez was brought in to help give the Dynamo offense another dimension other than playing the ball wide or over the top to Quioto or Elis. He was supposed to help dissect defenses with his passing and bring a possession based element to the team. I think the results have generally been mixed so far, but I would think it unfair to place Martínez as the sole reason why it hasn’t completely worked. There are so many things he does that support this team. His passing is cutting through defenses and he’s not giving the ball up easily. Against MNUFC he had an 89.1% passing accuracy which is very good for a central attacking midfielder. He provided several key passes and his through balls have been deadly. His dribbling is reminiscent of Eden Hazard at Chelsea. They both keep the ball close to their feet and can move down the field very quickly. Simply looking at the play where he set up Quioto for a one touch finish shows how fast he can get the ball down the field with it at his feet. He does need some help from those around him though. Early on we’ve discussed how he needs time to develop chemistry with his teammates, but I can’t count how often I’ve seen the ball at Martínez’s feet with Quioto, Elis, and Manotas just standing still. There needs to be a little more movement from this offense because when there isn’t it usually results in a turnover or a ball back to the center backs.
4) While the Minnesota offense looked listless, the defense should also get some credit for making it difficult for them to generate many opportunities on goal. Joe Willis had a fantastic 1v1 save on a possible offside play just 8 minutes in. The assistant referee kept his flag down, but Willis made the save anyway. Alejandro Fuenmayor had four tackles and three intercepted passes. Adolfo Machado returned to the starting lineup following his time at the World cup and started at right back where he picked up a tackle and four intercepted passes. DaMarcus Beasley and Adam Lundqvist each played a half at left back and were both very good at pushing up the field. Getting the win was important, but getting the shutout as well was almost as important.