The Dynamo ended a three game losing streak this past Saturday with a strong 3-1 win at BMO Field over Toronto FC. The outing featured a much stronger first choice XI than the midweek matchup with LAFC and as a result the Dynamo were able to collect three points.
Quick Thoughts about the Game:
1) Houston has developed a reputation for being a two-half team. That means that they play each half entirely different from the other and that’s still holds up in the 3-1 win over Toronto. The game began with both sides looking a little tired from the heavy minutes due to a compact schedule. However, the Dynamo knew when to flip their switch and take advantage of a Toronto side that featured many of its star players on the bench. After the lead, the Dynamo definitely sat deeper including in the first half. The big difference was with those star players on the bench, the Reds couldn’t muster up anything that threatened Tyler Deric and the defense.
In the second half, substitutes Jozy Altidore, Jacob Shaffelburg, and Michael Bradley all played a part in pinning Houston back for extended stretches, but a wonder goal by Mauro Manotas (who had absolutely zero help perfectly illustrating how deep we were sitting) added to the tally and made the hole too deep to climb out of. If Toronto’s offside goal had stood, there was enough time for the home side to make a run for an equalizer.
The Dynamo need another mode besides high press and park the bus. If they spread the field and possessed for longer stretches they could have had TFC chase the game. Instead we surrendered nearly 70% of the possession and often cleared the ball to no one. Possession stats aren’t everything as we were the ones walking away with three points, but that and the increased pressure the defense faced the second half still tells you something about this game being closer than the score line indicates.
2) While I think this result shouldn’t be too hyped up given some of the things I said above, there certainly are things to get excited about. The link up play, specifically in the first half, was great. Very good 1-2 passing and outstanding through balls devastated Toronto’s back line. The Dynamo built up play through the middle which we often don’t see. Usually the strategy is for Alberth Elis or Romell Quioto to have the ball wide and drive across towards goal, either as a run or a pass. With Elis suspended and Quioto on the bench, the offense looked different and in a good way. We love what Elis and Quioto bring, but it’s nice to have more than a one note offense. Also Manotas’s goal was a thing of beauty. He had zero help and took on the defense by himself. Sometimes he was a little lucky that the ball stayed under him, but he continued to move through and set himself up for a goal.
3) The defense also deserves a ton of credit, in particular Maynor Figueroa and Kiki Struna. The two read the game well to get on the end of crosses and to intercept the ball while making crucial clearances. Figueroa bailed Tyler Deric out by making a save off the line.
It is worth noting that we’re seeing A.J. DeLaGarza begin to struggle lately. He’s still the first choice right back, but AJ was getting torched by Shaffelburg and Wilmer Cabrera had to go to Kevin Garcia. I wish Cabrera would go to someone else such as DaMarcus Beasley which could have put Lundqvist on the right or to Marlon Hairston who played right back with the Colorado Rapids, but he keeps going to Garcia. Now, he did a decent job, but almost the full team was back there with him so he had some help.
4) In the end, it’s great that we got three points and ended a poor streak. As we learned from the 4-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, this win does not mean we’re out of water yet. With some home games coming up we will need to take care of business there to help compete and pass up some of the teams in the standings.