The Houston Dynamo drew their third straight game last Saturday night against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. The game had two very different and defining halves for the Dynamo which highlight some of their problems and simultaneously solutions to those problems. Here are a few of my observations and takeaways from the game.
1) Let’s start with the bad. Essentially the Dynamo came out completely flat and while that can be bad enough, especially on the road, they also fell into their trap of turning the ball over. Turning the ball over has been a repeated problem for Houston for much of this season and its problems are two-fold: first it hinders the offense from creating any chances by denying them the ability to. Second, it gives opponents more opportunities to create for themselves which the effect is multiplied depending where the giveaway occurs. The Dynamo for much of the first half against RSL were stuck in their own half and frankly were quite lucky to have only conceded one goal to the home side. But it wasn’t all bad.
2) On to the good and how the Dynamo solved some of their problems. Basically they woke up and stopped turning the ball over as much. This is another theme with Houston this season, at least the last few games. They either play poorly or mediocre, give up a goal, and suddenly we see a different team. That needs to start happening sooner because we see the team absolutely has another gear to switch into.
Against RSL in the second half as previously mentioned, the possession tightened up considerably. This allowed the offense to finally get involved to threaten Salt Lake in several opportunities exemplified by the goal that would be the equalizer. Technically a counter attack, it still highlighted great quick passing from back to front. Derrick Jones began the attack from the back eventually surrendering the ball to Maxi Urruti. Urruti got his head up and pushed the ball out wide to Tyler Pasher who took his space and made the run down the wing eventually rewarding Urruti with a ball into the 18 yard box resulting in a goal.
3) There are more positives worth bringing up and that’s the defensive efforts that we’ve seen from the Dynamo. Even though the Dynamo have really put the pressure on their own back line by relinquishing possession frequently and often in poor areas of the pitch, the defense and goalkeeping has largely been up to task to deal with the danger. Marko Marić is worth noting, who made the most recent MLS Team of the Week, who has kept the Dynamo within reach and in games. He’s absolutely bounced back from his blunder against the Rapids back in May.
4) There was a tweet from Dynamo super fan Web Tilton that caught my eye (shown below) which I think contextualizes some of the run of form the Dynamo are in. He pushed back against the narrative that MLSSoccer.com was pushing about the supposed dire straits that the club was in. As Web pointed out the last four games, in which the Dynamo are winless, three were on the road and the teams were all pretty good: LAFC, Portland, SKC, and RSL. Houston also only lost one of those games as well. Currently the Dynamo sit in 6th place in the West and are above the playoff line. Are there issues that the team, Tab Ramos, and the new ownership has to deal with? Absolutely and I mentioned some of them related to the RSL game, but this is not quite the “this is fine” meme situation that at least some people will have you believe. But a win sometime soon would go a long way to silencing some of those concerns *nudge nudge Dynamo*.
What a negative perspective, @MLS. “Winless in their last 4” but 3 were on the road and we manage 2 ties from the 3. And no one mentions anywhere that @HoustonDynamo is still the only team to not register a shutout this season. That deserves a nod to the team. pic.twitter.com/SR7mUSVLHA— Web Tilton (@webtilton) June 27, 2021