The Houston Dynamo have lost four league games in a row and currently sit in the 10th spot in the Western Conference after losing 0-1 to Columbus Crew SC at Mapfre Stadium over the weekend. The Dynamo have had a lot of things working against them lately with injuries piling up and little time to heal with games coming in bunches. Coming into this game the Dynamo had played 5 games in about two and a half weeks while Crew SC had the advantage of a bye week. Despite Houston playing well for most of the game, Gyassi Zardes was able to steal the win for the home team with a goal in the first minute of stoppage time.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) For many Dynamo fans, the officiating has been particularly poor during this losing streak. Against the Union we saw Tomás Martínez shown a straight red card which was reviewed by VAR. This red card would later be rescinded. Against Sporting Kansas City three players were shown red cards in an absolute mess of a game. Consistency was not present with the game out of control. In Columbus, we saw Gyassi Zardes, the lone goal scorer, dive in the box. Joe Willis showed tremendous restraint and composure on the play, but Zardes was not shown a second yellow card for simulation. I understand that players that dive are not always given yellows, but the rule states that diving is “unsporting behavior” because it is an attempt to deceive the official and a caution should be given. The goal itself was also controversial. Although Zardes was in an onside position, Patrick Mullins was not and he attempted to play the ball. That could be ruled offsides, but it could also be interpreted that Mullins interfered with the play even if he wasn’t directly involved in it. I’ve gone back and forth on my personal feelings about it and I think it should not have stood, but it at least deserved closer attention by center official Mark Geiger.
2) The game plan coming into this one was likely similar to other road matches: play smart (don’t be careless with the ball), stay organized, and don’t commit too much on the offensive side except with counter attacks. I think it’s generally a conservative strategy which plays it safe and it relies on a lot of defending, something the Dynamo do not excel at. Against Crew SC, I thought apart from poor finishing, the Dynamo executed their strategy well. Players were in the right positions, they made it difficult for Crew SC to get quality chances, and we were able to spring the counter often. I’m not a big fan of this strategy with the Dynamo, but given the amount of wear on players in recent weeks I won’t argue too much against it given that it was played well.
3) The Dynamo are almost out of time for a playoff push. The optimist in me still thinks there’s a chance if they start getting three points in games and start making that a regular thing. A lot of fans don’t share my optimism though and they are getting frustrated with the team’s performances which are a reflection of coaching and the front office. For at least the second year in a row our club has spent the least in the league for its players’ payroll. The team has consistently given up late goals in games and the record on the road is among the worst in the league. Poor officiating has made it difficult for many to watch games and we’re seeing effects from these issues in the form of dipping attendance figures.
4) Lastly, I think it would be unfair to not mention how good the goalkeeping was on both sides. Zack Steffen for Crew SC and Joe Willis both made some big time saves and deserve a ton of credit. The Dynamo could have had a few goals if it weren’t for the heroics by Steffen and Crew SC could have added to their goal if it weren’t for Willis.