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Dynamo Match Day 6: By the Numbers

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Before moving to this weekend’s match we take a look at some of the numbers behind the Dynamo’s recent performances. And they aren’t good.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Since the last by the numbers, the Dynamo have played 3 games in 8 days. This has doubled our sample size of games to 6 games (17% of the season). While this isn’t a large enough sample size to make over-arching claims, it is significant enough to find some trends for the Dynamo. Over the last 3 games, the Dynamo went 1-1-1, which I think they would gladly take with two of the games on the road. However, I think the underlying numbers are less positive.

All data provided by fbref and American Soccer Analysis.

5.33 – During the 2020 season, the Dynamo averaged 8.61 PPA per game. The Dynamo are now averaging 5.33 passes into the penalty area (PPA) per game for the 2021 season, a 38% decrease compared to 2020. 5.33 PPA is the 4th lowest total in the league. Darwin Quintero averaged 3.05 PPA last season and now he has only played around 50 minutes this year. The Dynamo have been unable to replace basically any of his final third production and therefore struggled to move the ball into the box efficiently. Tyler Pasher leads the team as a player with more than 2 games played with 1.54 PPA per game. This is about half of what Quintero is averaging, so the Dynamo are relying on a more collective approach, but it isn’t working. With Pasher and Quintero not playing against Colorado, the Dynamo only completed 2 passes into the penalty area. One player’s production who has really dropped from season to season is Adam Lundkvist. In 2020 Adam averaged 1.78 passes into the penalty area, but he has yet to complete one pass into the penalty area after playing all 6 games this year.

The Dynamo’s opponent this weekend, Vancouver, averaged the lowest number of passes into the penalty area (2.33) in the league.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

-3.8 – The Dynamo are not just lacking creativity but also execution. Using American Soccer Analysis’ expected passing model, a model that estimates the likelihood a pass will be completed, the Dynamo completed 3.8 fewer passes than expected per 100 passes, the lowest score in the league. The Dynamo struggled in the attacking 3rd of the pitch even more; the Dynamo completed 6.0 fewer passes per 100 than expected. The only players who have completed more passes than expected are Boniek Garcia, Matías Vera and Tim Parker. The player who has underperformed expectations the most is Derrick Jones with 10.11 fewer passes completed than expected per 100. The Dynamo are consistently struggling to create opportunities or move the ball into the penalty area with their current skill set on the field. The Dynamo have the second lowest pass g+ in the league. This shows that besides Cincinnati, no team is worse at improving their likelihood of scoring a goal with their collective passes than the Dynamo. Last year the Dynamo were 3rd in g+ passing per 96. This sharp decline is what happens when you bench one of the elite passers and creators in the league.

.23 – Using American Soccer Analysis’ amazing goals added metric, we are able to tell which parts of the pitch the Dynamo add the most value by calculating how much each touch changes the Dynamo’s chances of scoring. Looking at only events/touches in the final 3rd, the Dynamo add .23 goals per game. Only one other team is less productive in the final 3rd. Houston is even lower than Cincinnati. In the middle and defensive thirds, the Dynamo are pretty close to league average. This tells us that the Dynamo are okay at moving the ball up the pitch but lack the skill, plan or creativity to consistently produce quality chances in the final 3rd.

I know I say this every week, but the Dynamo are missing a reliable playmaker that consistently moves the ball into the box and creates shots. There is only one player on the team who has shown to have the ability to bring this dynamism in the final third and he has not started one game this year. Results have been satisfactory so far this season so it is unlikely that Tab Ramos will change the lineup dramatically any time soon. However, the underlying metrics like xG and goals added rate the Dynamo as one of the worst teams in the league. These underlying metrics tend to be more predictive of future results compared to actual prior results, so I am not optimistic about the future of the team without a change to the lineup.