It’s almost time for the Houston Dynamo’s next opponent, Real Salt Lake, in the 2020 Visit Tucson Sun Cup, but before we look ahead, let’s look back to the opening draw with the New York Red Bulls.
The game overall felt about right for the first preseason game against MLS level competition under a new head coach. That’s not to say the Dynamo were bad or the Red Bulls dominated, but the two sides played each other fairly equally and had some issues with executing their respective game plans. I want to focus on just a few things that I noticed while watching the game, but before I get to any of that the one observation that felt a little too obvious to mention but deserves some was the finishing for both sides was in particular preseason form.
I have not seen so many players slip in a game as I did in Saturday’s match and I think it definitely played a role in the game. The field which saw more players slip in the Dynamo attacking half compared to our defensive half allowed the Red Bulls to counter attack more effectively (and without worrying about falling) while Houston’s offense was slowed. The second half saw more energy offensively by both the Dynamo starters and their replacement substitutes. The Red Bulls meanwhile suffered some easy misses of their own some of which I think could be related to the condition of the field.
I don’t want to say the field was totally to blame and both sides had to use it, but it appeared to slow the Dynamo down more in the first half. Maybe that is due to Tab Ramos’s style, but we’ll find out more about that as more preseason games are under his belt. I just saw too many players moving like they really didn’t want to fall over and any time a player slips while taking a free kick – who I should add earned the free kick because someone slipped into him – we might want to talk about the playing surface.
There were several performances that stood out to me above the others and without ranking them here they are: Adam Lundqvist, Tomás Martínez, Mauro Manotas, Marko Marić, Zarek Valentin, and Memo Rodríguez. Also worth noting is the two players that are not Dynamo members, but played with them on Saturday: Niccolo Lemoine and Isidro Martinez.
- Lundqvist was very good going forward and linked up very well with Memo.
- Memo had a very special goal and had a nice lay off to Tomás earlier in the game.
- Marić made an excellent reaction save with his foot on a 1v1 early and the game and seemed to communicate with his back line well.
- Zarek in the second half was effective distributing the ball accurately from deep and slowed things down for the Red Bull offense.
- Both Lemoine and Martinez opened up the midfield with their pace and were good transitioning the ball from offense to defense.
- Mauro Manotas was also good at putting himself in scoring positions, but that finishing needs to sharpen up some.
Tab’s Style of Play
While I mentioned the field as a hindrance to getting a good first look at the way Tab wants his players to play, there were a few things that stood out at least as being different from Wilmer Cabrera and Davy Arnaud.
For starters the center backs and goalkeeper will be more involved in possession and distribution. This suits Kiki Struna and Maynor Figueroa well as both are good at going forward and accurately passing from the back, but it was interesting to see Marko Marić involved in that as well. I think with a better playing surface, the pace picks up here and players like Alberth Elis will benefit from quick plays out of the back.
Possession was also prioritized more. The Red Bulls often conceded part of the midfield to support their counter attacking style, but we saw a lot more interaction and one-two passes between Tomás, Memo, and the outside backs, which helped free space for Mauro Manotas in the middle.
It’s hard to gauge exactly how Tab wants his team to play after just one preseason game against MLS competition, but we’re starting to see the pieces come together in a more modern style that has more notes than Cabrera’s “fling it to Elis” offense.
So what did you think of the game and what stood out to you? What are you looking forward to seeing the next time the Dynamo take the field? Let us know in the comments below.