Houston Dynamo FC was back in action following the international break, this time facing their opponents the Vancouver Whitecaps at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The Whitecaps, while technically the home team have had Rio Tinto designated their home stadium due to international travel restrictions from Covid-19. Over the course of the match, the Dynamo and Whitecaps put on a masterful defensive showing with great shape, reading of passes, and tackling. However, these defensive efforts, along with more conservative tactics, hampered the offense from being able to produce in the 0-0 draw.
Early into the game it was a little sloppy with the Dynamo largely sitting back, but they did well to win possession in the midfield which limited Vancouver’s chances. Around the 6th minute Houston got their first decent chance of the game following a quick throw in by Fafà Picault. Picault picked out Derrick Jones who did well to hold it up in traffic and poke the ball to Maxi Urruti. Urruti, who was also well marked, tried to take a touch around his defender and get his shot, but it was deflected out for a corner kick.
The Dynamo had a nice combination going forward in the 17th minute. Picault was released on the counter and although he had no options to pass to going forward, he held it up and connected with Zarek Valentin on the overlap. As Dynamo players pushed up the field, Valentin switched the ball to Joe Corona whose shot was blocked. The Dynamo kept possession, but it was eventually cleared.
Vancouver responded a few minutes later on the counter with Valentin making a great sliding block to keep the home side off the score sheet. On the ensuing corner, Déiber Caicedo whipped in a ball that found an unmarked Cristian Dájome who put the ball over the top of the net.
Maxi Urruti struck the post in the 25th minute following a set piece about 25 yards out. Urruti earned the free kick when he tried his luck from distance, but center back Andy Rose made contact with his hand in an unusual position. Urruti struck a nearly perfect kick low and with power, but it deflected off the post.
As the game got closer to halftime, the Dynamo played more compact and closed gaps to limit the Whitecaps’ ability to build up their offense which mostly relied on corner kicks for the half. The Dynamo often won possession in the midfield and quickly transitioned the ball on the counter attack, but failed to look too dangerous without much support.
Both sides started the second half more aggressively. The Whitecaps had some dangerous crosses sent in that were close to finding their target. The Dynamo had excellent combination play in tight spaces one of which put Matías Vera in on goal, but Vera’s first touch was too far in front of him to get the first goal.
Sam Junqua fouled Dájome setting up a dangerous free kick for Vancouver. Cristián Gutiérrez stood over the ball and struck the ball well and hit the post. Coincidentally, it was the exact same post Urruti hit in the first half.
With the managers having made some changes as the game went on, the game opened up for the Dynamo as they got numbers higher up the field, but still lacked that final touch or pass to put the ball in the back of the net. Vancouver largely depended on the counter and were pushed out wide with Houston clogging the middle of the field which hurt their ability to get a good look on goal.
The Whitecaps had another set piece outside the 18 yard box around the 80th minute. This time it was Joe Corona who brought down Dájome. Gutiérrez stood over it again and caught the Dynamo napping on a trick play. The Houston defense thought he’d strike it dead on, but he floated one back post, but fortunately for the visitors the ball was over hit and in front of the rushing Vancouver players.
The final whistle would blow and both teams would be equal after 90 minutes. Defensively it was a very good game by both sides, but the offenses struggled to break down the back and create any quality chances outside of the set pieces. For the Dynamo, they’ll take a point on the road, but to not look good on the attack against a team that’s 12th in the West is more than a little disappointing.
It will be a short turnaround for the Dynamo with their next match coming Saturday July, 24th against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park at 9:00 PM CT.
24’ VAN: Andy Rose (yellow card)
42’ HOU: Teenage Hadebe (yellow card)
55’ HOU: Sam Junqua (yellow card)
83’ HOU: Fafà Picault (yellow card)
83’ HOU: Caio Alexandre (yellow card)
Houston Dynamo (5-3-2): Marko Marić; Adam Lundkvist (58’ Darwin Quintero), Sam Junqua, Teenage Hadebe, Tim Parker, Zarek Valentin; Joe Corona, Derrick Jones (59’ Memo Rodríguez), Matías Vera; Maxi Urruti, Fafà Picault
Vancouver Whitecaps (4-3-3): Thomas Hasal; Cristián Gutiérrez, Andy Rose, Ranko Veselinović, Jake Nerwinski; Russell Teibert (62’ Caio Alexandre), Michael Baldisimo (85’ Patrick Metcalfe), Janio Bikel; Déiber Caicedo, Brian White (73’ Tosaint Ricketts), Cristian Dájome