The Houston Dynamo may not have played the best soccer on Saturday night, however they played well enough to come away with a road point. Historically not a good road team, the players have managed to get a point in each of their last two road games and in three of six road matches in 2021. Coming home for this weekend’s match provides the Dynamo an opportunity to build on the road momentum and gain confidence in the process. Here are some key things for the Dynamo to build on their momentum.
Who scores first?
The Houston Dynamo are treading water at the moment with a goal differential of minus one. FC Cincinnati has the second worst goal differential of any MLS team in either conference at minus eight. Despite that, FCC is in the midst of a run of three road games in which they are 2-0 with two clean sheets. They come to Houston having beaten both Chicago and Toronto in the last week and have won three road games this season against two losses and a six draws.
Houston needs to put FC Cincy on their heels by scoring early and often. Just one of FCC’s last five goals have come in the opening 45 minutes. Meanwhile, eight of the Houston goals this season have been scored over that same span. Three of those eight have rippled the net in the opening 15 minutes. Therefore the goal (pun intended) is simple. Get the early lead and build on it if the home side wants to taste victory at BBVA.
Stopping Luciano Acosta
The FCC offense flows through the Argentinian midfielder and his 2021 performance has been spot on. Completing nearly 80 percent of his passes, his deliveries most often find the foot of a forward propelling the attack forward rather than side to side. The stat sheet of goals and assists can be misleading when it comes to proficiency and efficiency and Acosta has been both. Houston needs to keep their eyes on the smallest player at 5’3” who has been coming up big in the most important moments.
Possession, possession, possession
This is ultimately the key to Houston’s success. Head coach Tab Ramos has been harping on this subject at every opportunity and yet it has not materialized on a consistent basis. Possession is simple, execute it and you control the tempo of the game and whether the game is played in your defensive third or the offensive third. With a defense that has surrendered 63 percent of the opponent’s goals in the second half this is crucial. With seven of eight goals in the last five games conceded after the first half whistle and half of those after the hour mark, it is no wonder the team is struggling to put together wins. Possession is critical.
FC Cincinnati has not allowed a goal in the last 250 plus minutes of play. This is a team brimming with confidence and hitting on all cylinders. Houston must come with the same, if not more, intensity as they did in the second half against RSL and play a full 90 plus minutes if they want to protect their home pitch and secure three points.