The Houston Dynamo have continued their hot start to the 2019 MLS season with a strong 2-0 win over the visiting Columbus Crew SC. The Dynamo looked in charge for most of the match and looked disciplined going forward and on the defensive side of the ball.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) This was a very measured approach by Wilmer Cabrera. His team looked largely in charge for most of the game and Wilmer chose to do something that I can’t stand at times and that was sit back. The difference this time was that the defense stepped up to cut out opportunities and the offense would get numbers up to try for another. With the win all but assured, Cabrera subbed off the more offensive Tomás Martínez for Juan David Cabezas which also shifted the formation to a defensive 4-3-1-2 late in the game and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the move, it ended up working.
2) I tweeted about this during the game that at times Matías Vera sat so deep he often looked like a 3rd center back. It was a little concerning possession wise because he needed to be in a higher position for the Dynamo to advance the ball up the field and out of our half of the field, but it did afford our outside backs and other CBs that like to push up some freedom of movement. I think more chemistry needs to be developed – especially when we reincorporate JDC – but for now I like the extra cover with the lead. Possession with the lead can kill off games, but playing it safe with our current defenders appears to not be as destructive as it was last season.
HOU sometimes having trouble getting the ball out of the back with the CBs looking for someone to open up in the middle. Problem though, that player is Vera who has at times played so deep he's the 3rd CB. It's great cover for Figueroa and Struna, but eliminates a passing option.— Derek Stowers (@dStowers410) April 28, 2019
3) So the Dynamo are off to a great start this season. Despite the win and only a single loss, they’re currently still in 5th place in the Western Conference, but they have a couple games in hand which they can use to move up the table. Houston has largely had a generous schedule which has had them go on the road just twice so far in 2019, but some of that is due to the heat in the summer in HTX along with CONCACAF Champions League early into the season. The Dynamo have some tests coming up which should be good indicators of whether or not this year’s squad is for real. The first test begins with their next game against FC Dallas in the first Texas Derby match of the year.
4) The defense has been a huge problem during the Cabrera era. He’s got an offensive juggernaut with a potent front 3 or 4 if you include Tomás Martínez, but the tactics of sitting back and leaning on a weaker back four have led to giving up a lot of goals and points late. The current back line, even without DaMarcus Beasley, has looked improved which starts with the center backs. Kiki Struna and Maynor Figueroa have looked so good together. They know when to advance the ball, when to stay back, and they read the game really well. Even though this was the club’s first shutout of the year, they have played a lot better defense compared to the defensive lines we saw last season and this was a deserved shutout.