The final game of preseason and the 2020 Visit Tucson Sun Cup is coming up soon, but before we look ahead, let’s look back the Houston Dynamo’s dominant performance over Real Salt Lake earlier this week.
Over 90 minutes, the Dynamo rarely looked not in control, but it took them until the second half to open things up, which boy did they open things up to the tune of 4-0 after the final whistle. Let’s look at just a few things that stood out to me from this one:
Goals, goals, goals
The first half – which I’ll get to later – was boring. Neither side look threatening in the final third until it was nearly half time, but something clicked for Houston after that. The Dynamo looked dangerous and found the back of the net in a variety of ways. They scored by pushing the ball from the center, to out wide, to back into the box. They scored from distance. They scored by winning the ball in a good position and putting in a solid individual performance. They scored from the opposite wide area and finding the center forward.
It was about as complete an effort on the offensive end as you can get and shows that this offense, which is still missing Darwin Quintero and Alberth Elis, can hurt you in a variety of ways.
That first half
A lot of people were down on the first half and I even called it boring, but there were some positives even if the offense needed a wake-up call. Tomás Martínez in particular stood out this half because he seemed to be everywhere and was by far the best player on the field. He was winning possession where Matías Vera usually does and then quickly transitioned things to the other end of the field. He was directing players where he wanted them and was checking to players to receive it, and then creating space by moving it out wide.
Martínez has been one of the better players this tournament for Houston and while he still needs to improve his finishing and just take the shot rather than pass it off at times, he looks like a better player under Tab Ramos.
So far, so good from the keeper
Marko Marić didn’t have a ton to do last Wednesday, but he’s quietly putting on a good show in Tucson. Marić appears to communicate with his back line well and is a confident and calm distributor out of the back which looks to be a bigger part of Tab’s preferred style of play. There were a couple of instances where he was pressured and the normal thing keepers do is clear it, but he would calmly play it over to an unmarked defender while under pressure. His footwork is a huge asset doing this and it helps us keep possession rather than risk turning it over with a clearance.
Then there was another big save. Against New York he made a great reaction save with his foot when he was 1v1 with an attacker and against RSL Sam Junqua slipped – it happens – and it left his man unmarked. The ball was played to him and the player tried to chip Marić who was in no-man’s land, but the Croatian rose up and swatted the ball away from danger.
Marić needs to be tested more before we can give a fair ruling on his performances, but he’s looked great in a limited showing so far.
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.