The Houston Dynamo dropped another game, this time at home to a depleted Los Angeles FC side who opted to rest many of its starters that had just participated in the US Open Cup. The 3-1 loss is frustrating given how well the Dynamo played in the first half, but the team could not capitalize on its chances and LAFC did. Lou Roesch did a great write up about his takeaways, but I wanted to provide mine and let you all sound off as well.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) Before doing a diving into what makes this game – and the Dynamo form in general – frustrating, I want to start on a positive note. The first half was extremely positive play and the Dynamo were unlucky to not have several goals on the board. Even with the late equalizer, if they had continued that high level of play, I would have been happy.
Houston pressed LAFC with a high line and was able to consistently win balls in the midfield. LA in fact conceded large amounts of space there and kept defenders back due to the quickness of Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis. LA seemed content to generate offense solely through the counter attack compared to Houston who found some success moving the ball around utilizing wide areas to pick their chances. Apart from not finding the back of the net, I was very impressed with how the Dynamo attacked in the first half and is an example of how this team should play for most of the game.
2) One thing that Lou brought up in his article that must be mentioned was about LA and how they were able to convert their shots. Houston, despite all their efforts, struggled to get their shots on target and in the back of the net. To further this though of LA’s total shots (14), only two and their equalizing goal came in the first half. Houston meanwhile defended deeper in the second half and only got four shots off with just one on target. If the Dynamo got some of their first half efforts to go in, even with LA’s goals and Houston’s poor second half form, this game could have been three points for the home side.
3) One thing that has become increasingly clear is that the Dynamo are not a two half team. Against FC Cincinnati we saw the team defend deep early because they were the away team and Cincy made them pay. The next half Houston came out of its shell and found a way back into the game only it was too little too late. Against LA the Dynamo may have played some of their best team soccer all year, though as I mentioned above the finishing needed some improvement. But as LAFC grew their confidence by pushing Houston back with their equalizer and then early second half goal, the Dynamo looked demoralized. They were sloppy with the ball in midfield compared to the first half, and stayed too far behind the ball almost too concerned about conceding another goal (which happened) than getting one of their own.
4) So what does this game mean long term? The Dynamo have never been a top traveling team in MLS so they’ve often relied on their success at home to pull them up and that’s been very true for Wilmer Cabrera. This loss to LAFC dropped the Dynamo out from the 7th and final playoff spot and into 8th place. From the great start to the year where the Dynamo could sniff the top of the conference table, they’ve fallen to out of the picture. The last 10 games have seen the Dynamo go 2-2-6 for a total of 8 points out of a possible 30.
It’s not good enough. I know that during that stretch the Dynamo have had injuries, player call-ups, US Open Cup, and way too many double game weeks, but some of these games were winnable. Some of them could have been draws. This team is underachieving and is capable of playing at a higher level than 8th place in the West. The playoff window hasn’t closed yet, but back-to-back years of missing the playoffs will be unacceptable and this year we can’t fall back on a US Open Cup trophy as a consolation.