Before last Saturday, the Dynamo had played LAFC 6 times, resulting in 2 draws and 4 losses. Houston were looking for their first win against Bob Bradley and LAFC, but the Dynamo were only able to take 1 point. Overall, the game was competitive with the xG breakdown of 1.15 for Houston and 1.24 for LA. However, LAFC were not at full strength, with Diego Rossi just coming back from injury and Carlos Vela missing another game. There were some encouraging passages of play from the Dynamo, but I think there are some issues upon which the Dynamo need to improve.
17%: For every 6 passes the Dynamo complete that enter the final 3rd, the Dynamo complete 1 pass that enters the penalty area. Basically, the Dynamo penetrated the opposing team’s 18-yard box 17% of the time the Dynamo moved the ball into the final 3rd. This is the 3rd worst mark in the league, behind Columbus and Vancouver. The Dynamo’s most recent opponent, LAFC, rank first in this metric at 44%.
The Dynamo rank 4th in passes completed into the final 3rd but 19th in passes completed into the penalty area. This shows that the Dynamo are succeeding at progressing the ball up the field but are unable to generate the little bit of skill needed to get the ball into the box. I believe this is due to the lack of playmakers on the field for the Dynamo. Last year, the Dynamo relied on Darwin Quintero, who led the team and the league in shot creating actions, to generate shots in favorable locations on the field. Tab Ramos has benched Quintero in favor of newly signed Fafa Picault and Tyler Pasher. So far this season, Pasher and Picault combined average .39 expected assists (xA) per 90. Quintero averaged .39 xA all last season. It is taking two players to replicate the creativity that Quintero provided last year. The Dynamo will need Quintero back in the starting lineup or someone else to take a big step up to improve the team’s attacking competence in the final 3rd.
8.5: The Dynamo are averaging 8.5 progressive (vertical) yards per completed pass, ranking 1st in MLS. No other team is moving the ball up the field per completed pass as the Dynamo. Last year, the Dynamo averaged 6.7 progressive yards per completed pass. Tab has clearly instructed his players to move the ball vertically as fast as they can. Unfortunately, this aggressive passing hasn’t led to quality attacks. The Dynamo average .09 xG per shot (21st in MLS) and 1.09 xG per 90 (22nd in MLS).
With this aggressive passing, the Dynamo lose the ball frequently. They have a 70.2% pass completion percentage and a 72.7% expected pass percentage, according to ASA. The Dynamo rank last in the league for both of these metrics. This has led to the Dynamo having the second lowest possession at 44%. It is not always bad to have a low passing percentage, as it means the team is trying to move the ball in dangerous areas in which they should be able to take a high quality shot. However, the Dynamo are attempting lots of low probability passes but not getting the quality chances.
16: So far this season, Tab has used 16 different players during the first 3 games of the season, the lowest amount in the league. Tab has put out the same XI each game with Quintero, Ariel Lassiter, Derrick Jones, Darwin Ceren and Christian Ramirez coming off the bench. Usually the more consistency you have with your lineup, the better results for your team, but this is more to do with managers not changing their lineup when things are going well. The MLS season is long and grueling, especially in that Houston heat. Tab is currently playing his favorites but he will have to rotate the side as the schedule starts to pick up. It would be nice to see the Dynamo’s $1M signing Mateo Bajamich get some minutes.
The Dynamo currently sit at 1-1-1 with a Texas Derby match against FC Dallas coming up. The Dynamo haven’t won a game in Frisco since 2011. I hope that Tab puts Quintero into the starting lineup. If he does not, then I think the Dynamo will struggle to create scoring chances consistently.