Houston Dynamo FC were able to grind out a midweek matchup against rival Sporting Kansas City with a 1-0 win. The game was largely back and forth and featured plenty of close chances, but the Dynamo were probably the more deserving side to earn the three points. Here are a few brief observations of mine from the match and please let us know in the comments below anything you noticed.
1) As I mentioned above, this was a back and forth game. It seemed like every time a team took their foot off the gas to try and get a second wind in the future that the other was positioned to take advantage of that period by increasing their pressure and possession within the other’s half. I think Houston largely was more successful at this strategy and quickly adapted in the second half down the stretch, but there were plenty of nervous moments especially early in the second half when SKC came out with a lot of authority. Credit the Dynamo for defending well (more on that later) and for responding well after these spells of possession and attacking confidence by SKC. This was the kind of “grind it out” game that the Dynamo need to gain some confidence while holding onto enough humility knowing it could’ve been a third consecutive 1-1 draw. It wasn’t a perfect performance with plenty of missed chances and more sloppy possession, but they got their first shutout of the season and three points and that’s pretty good against a quality side like Sporting Kansas City.
2) Shout out to some individual performances: Dynamo goalkeeper Marko Marić and midfielder Derrick Jones. This game does not end the way it does without these two. Marić made several key saves, 4 in total, including a big 1v1 chance. I included several of his big moments embedded in our recap so check those out for some video of his saves. Marić’s performance and first clean sheet of the season helped make him the Dynamo man of the match.
The other player that I mentioned that had a huge impact was Derrick Jones. He hasn’t been universally well received by Dynamo fans, but that is likely to change the more games he gets under his belt. The guy is big, strong, and has a pretty good idea of the game. Jones’s assist (again see our recap for that video) was amazing. I don’t necessarily like Jones starting as the most defensive midfielder and I’d prefer Matías Vera in the back for precisely for this reason: Jones is great moving up the field. He’s very intelligent with the ball when he’s confident and I think he got a lot of confidence following that assist because he was nearly flawless afterwards. He expertly opted to not waste passes, but feigned them to help finish off the game down the stretch.
3) Tab Ramos getting sent off late in the game for standing up Fafà Picault following a foul against him that was not called could be a blessing in disguise. First of all, I loved the way that Tab stood up for his player because he saw it, the replays showed it, and it was a foul. Not a terrible foul, but he chose to back his player which is a great signal to the locker room. I also loved seeing the Dynamo following Tab being sent off actually step up their game play to help win the game for the fans, but also for their manager. This kind of moment has the ability to light a fire under the team and give them motivation and I hope it does.