The Houston Dynamo were back for another midweek matchup this time against the reigning MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United FC. The Dynamo are coming off a rough 3-1 loss to Los Angeles FC who fielded many reserves making the loss feel worse. Hoping to bounce back, the Dynamo traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and unfortunately things did not go as planned. At all. Wilmer Cabrera utilized a makeshift lineup which hindered things to an extent and an early red card dug the team into a hole which Atlanta capitalized on.
Atlanta United started things off flying out of the gates with Josef Martínez forcing Tyler Deric to come off his line in a hurry to stop the danger. The Dynamo had a golden opportunity early as well with Alberth Elis finding space on the right wing. He took on his defender and made a run towards goal and played in a ball across goal towards a streaking Marlon Hairston. However, Hairston mistimed his shot and whiffed on the potential tap-in.
The Dynamo would go down to 10 men in just the 6th minute after some poor decision making by Elis. After a foul by Elis, he earned a silly yellow for kicking the ball away. Elis took issue with the card and made contact with head referee Chris Penso which promptly saw the star Honduran sent off.
With a man advantage Atlanta began to increase their chances as their confidence grew. Josef Martínez tried his luck in the 24th minute from close range, but it was just off the mark. The home side would score a few minutes later though as Darlington Nagbe scored his first goal for Atlanta United. Julian Gressel picked out Nagbe who found space in the 18 yard box and Nagbe had time to pick a great spot in the top of the net over Deric to make it 1-0.
Still feeling it, Atlanta wasn’t done doing damage to the Dynamo in the first half. After some excellent combination play which saw Atlanta get around Kevin Garcia and into some open space, they chipped one to a free Brandon Vázquez who headed the ball into the net back post.
Josef Martínez nearly got his goal with Julian Gressel swinging in a ball from the wing into the box. The perfectly weighted ball met Martínez, but he was unable to steer it into the goal. Minutes later and just before halftime, Darlington Nagbe almost got his brace. He had his man beaten, Tommy McNamara, but his first time shot was hit with speed and narrowly missed the goal.
The second half started off like much of the first with Atlanta connecting passes in the Dynamo defensive third and getting off some shots. The Dynamo would win a ball in midfield and set halftime substitute Romell Quioto free to go 1v1 on goal. Quioto felt some contact behind him and went down hoping to draw a penalty, but referee Chris Penso was not impressed and said play on. After the replay it looked like Penso got the call correct. Not long after that Quioto would draw a free kick just outside the 18 yard box, but his effort was well off target.
Julian Gressel would connect with Josef Martínez again, but this time it would find the back of the net as Martínez’s header beat Deric back post. After the goal, Martínez stayed down after connecting with Deric, but he would be able to continue.
With Mauro Manotas coming on the Dynamo would get some more chances. Romell Quioto tried his luck from a tight angle to no avail and then Manotas tried it under pressure right in front of Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan, but he would only earn a corner.
Following some more defensive oriented substitutions by Atlanta United, the Dynamo would gain some ground in the possession game in Atlanta’s half, but they still struggled to break through to pull a goal back.
Atlanta would get its fourth of the night after a great display by Josef Martínez. After a brilliant through ball by Eric Remedi, Martínez took on Kevin Garcia and Tyler Deric by himself causing Garcia to fall into Deric before he smashed it into the net.
The last goal of the night came from, you guessed it, Atlanta. Julian Gressel, already on two assists, got his goal which came after a poor clearance. The ball fell to him and he smashed it back post.
The final whistle would blow and the Dynamo would be blown out 5-0 by Atlanta. The poor first team lineup by Cabrera and early red card to Elis really hurt and Atlanta absolutely punished them for it. Their possession in our half, their 23 total shots, and their ability to navigate the game by choosing when to sit back and when to push for more all show the qualities of a reigning championship team.
Next up is Toronto FC this Saturday, July 20th at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario Canada at 6:30 PM CT.
27’ ATL: Darlington Nagbe (assisted by Julian Gressel, Emerson Hyndman)
29’ ATL: Brandon Vázquez
60’ ATL: Josef Martínez (assisted by Julian Gressel)
79’ ATL: Josef Martínez (assisted by Eric Remedi)
88’ ATL: Julian Gressel
6’ HOU: Alberth Elis (yellow card)
6’ HOU: Alberth Elis (red card)
45’+1’ HOU: Matías Vera (yellow card)
84’ HOU: Romell Quioto (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (4-4-1-1): Tyler Deric; DaMarcus Beasley, Maynor Figueroa, Kiki Struna, Kevin Garcia; Tommy McNamara (HT Romell Quioto), Darwin Cerén, Matías Vera, Marlon Hairston (62’ Mauro Manotas); Tomás Martínez (HT Juan David Cabezas); Alberth Elis
Atlanta United FC (4-3-3): Brad Guzan; Michael Parkhurst, Leandro González Pirez, Miles Robinson, Julian Gressel; Emerson Hyndman (64’ Eric Remedi), Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe (77’ Mohammed Adams); Dion Pereira, Josef Martínez, Brandon Vázquez (74’ Gonzalo Martínez)