It has been since a 3-1 win over Toronto FC on July 20th that the Houston Dynamo last took home three points, but they accomplished that feat last night in a thrilling 2-0 win over Minnesota United FC. The game had plenty of ups and then a few nail biting moments especially towards the end. It was a deserved win and Davy Arnaud’s first as interim manager since taking over for Wilmer Cabrera. It will be a quick turnaround before the next fixture and hopefully reinforcements will come as the international call-ups return.
1) One thing we’ve come to see from recent Dynamo teams is a difference between first half play and second. Typically the Dynamo come out aggressive, press, and usually out play their opponents before relinquishing the midfield and allowing teams to create chances inside their half. Some of that rang true Wednesday evening, but it was far better managed. The Dynamo were easily the better team in the first half as they possessed well against a Loons side that sat deep and compact. Houston did well to work the ball from wide areas which eventually saw them find room through the middle of the field. The second half Minnesota made adjustments and spread the field better which made the Dynamo defend deeper on their lead. However, instead of coughing up the ball often from their half, they possessed it which forced Minnesota to chase the game. While I would have liked that possession to be focused more inside Minnesota territory, they managed only a few nervous moments out of the back with their possession. This style of play won’t work against everyone, but MNUFC is still the 4th best team in the West and was the 3rd best coming into Wednesday evening.
2) We can’t talk about this game without talking about the goals and the new partnership we’re seeing established between Mauro Manotas and Christian Ramirez. The opening goal in particular had a lot of neat parts to it. For starters, the cross was off, but Tommy McNamara did well to essentially box out his defender which allowed time for DaMarcus Beasley to settle the ball and look up before finding Manotas who finished beautifully through traffic. The second goal had a great one-two between Manotas and Tomás Martínez before Manotas set up Ramirez for a lovely flick over goalkeeper Vito Mannone. Both Manotas and Ramirez have shown their ability to drop deep with the other staying up providing a hold up player up top and a strong ball winner and quick distributor deeper in the midfield.
3) Dynamo fans have seldom had a chance to celebrate VAR as it’s done them wrong more times than it has done them right, but we finally had VAR go our way last night. After a poor touch/lay off by Kevin Garcia (who generally had a good game!), Ethan Finlay chested the ball to himself before volleying it into the net. However after review it looked like Angelo Rodríguez interfered with Joe Willis from an offside position. To me it’s easily the right call as Willis had to look passed an obstructed view to see Finlay, though I could see it not being enough to overturn a goal at the same time. I’m just happy the goal didn’t stand and the Dynamo kept a two goal cushion instead of playing a suddenly surging Loons side hoping for a road point.
4) One area where this game turned ugly was with the injuries and late tackles – generally against our players. Oscar Boniek García had to be subbed off as a precautionary measure after taking a shot into the chest; Christian Ramirez had to come off due to an injury along with substitute Juan David Cabezas after a nasty challenge.
With a short turn around and the Dynamo already short on players with a trip to Vancouver looming this weekend, getting international players back ASAP will be crucial.