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Houston Dynamo 0, Seattle Sounders FC 1: Rate the Players and Quick Thoughts

Let us know how you thought the Dynamo players performed in their loss to the Seattle Sounders

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo have now dropped their last two regular season home games in a row despite a valuable win on the road against Toronto FC in between those losses. This last match was a disappointing 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders who took three points at BBVA Stadium albeit with some controversy.

Quick Thoughts about the Game:

1) Houston has increasingly become known as a two-half team among the Dynamo faithful. What that means is they’re known for playing different styles of soccer in each of the two halves. While that’s an obvious oversimplification that holds some truth, I think in this one it actually comes down to Seattle’s style of play or rather the change of how they played in the second half that dictated this one. However, for this point I do want to focus on some of observations I saw during the more positive first half.

Throughout the first half the Dynamo were able find space out wide as Seattle seemed to clog the middle of the pitch to take away passing lanes. The space out wide usually came via the fast break as Seattle’s game plan was to sit back and pick its chances on offense more carefully. The Dynamo defense was more than up to the task of dealing with this attacking tactic which gave up zero shots on target and only two shots off.

The problem for Houston has been the limitations in how it creates chances. There is not enough movement with players off the ball as they often stand around as they wait for service which makes it difficult for the number 10 to do his job and make plays. This was made more challenging due to Wilmer Cabrera’s strategy to push Tomás Martínez out wide in favor of bringing Tommy McNamara to be the central playmaker. It was a good defensive half, a better than Seattle half offensively, but it still showed some of the problems that bled into the second half.

2) For Seattle, they came out after the halftime break and surprised Houston with a more energetic approach to the game. They pressed much higher up and caught the Dynamo off guard as the early stages of the second half were played primarily in the Dynamo’s own side of the field. Seattle would secure the first goal before the 60th minute thanks to Jordan Morris’s effort. It was a controversial goal as it appeared Morris took the space away from A.J. DeLaGarza causing him to flip over Morris’s back, but the goal stood.

Following the goal, Seattle shifted back to its first half style of play which relied on sitting deeper and creating offense on the counter. Houston was never able to break down the Sounder back line as their struggle to pick apart teams that sit deep continues to be a problem.

3) As I mentioned in the Dynamo win over Toronto, I believed that game was a lot closer than the score line indicated and it was largely due to the tactics by our head coach. Against Seattle there were some questionable choices in what was ultimately a close game. I understand the decision to try Tommy Mac at the 10 again with Tomás out wide as it seemed to work well against TFC, but I would’ve like to see Cabrera have the two switch roles more just to test Seattle as the strategy didn’t appear to be working.

The offense in general needs to be more dynamic than speed on the wings. We’re lethal on the counter attack and with space in front, but when teams sit deep and take that space away there’s not enough quick 1-2 passing and movement to pick opponents apart. We usually keep trying to find space out wide and work it inside, but it’s too slow and we are often forced to reset, turn the ball over, or settle for a poor shot.

There were other head scratchers like subbing DeLaGarza off for Kevin Garcia that – at least to me – didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Unlike other games this one didn’t feel like we lost it due to a change in tactics, but rather a lack of different attacking strategy outside of the usual. The team isn’t deep enough without Alberth Elis or Romell Quioto to try that strategy, which struggles against teams that sit back, over and over again and hope to get a good result.

4) So what does this result mean in the larger scheme of things? Well the Dynamo dropped from 8th to 9th place in the Western Conference for starters making their climb into a playoff position slightly more difficult. However, the Dynamo are a team that struggle on the road – like most MLS teams to be fair – so getting results at home are crucial to success. With only 5 of the remaining 12 games being at BBVA Stadium, wins at home especially down the stretch are necessary given our place in the standings. Unless we start getting points on the road, we may come back and circle games like this one as a huge missed opportunity.