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Observations from the Houston Dynamo loss to the Colorado Rapids

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The Houston Dynamo were defeated 3-1 by the Colorado Rapids, here are a few of my brief thoughts on the match.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo had a tough loss over the weekend to the Colorado Rapids. They went down a goal early and somehow were able to get back into the game, but simply weren’t sharp enough to score and fell behind defensively on some assignments which led the Rapids to capitalize on some mistakes. Here are a few of my thoughts from the game.

1) It was an abysmal start for the Houston Dynamo. Head Coach Tab Ramos had decided to change his formation to a 5-3-2, or a 3-5-2 depending on who had possession, and it didn’t work. The early issues were that the Rapids dominated possession in our half due to spacing problems in the midfield. The Rapids pressed high with the space that the Dynamo formation gave them which meant they kept the ball in our half often and they used it to create chances or have us concede corner kicks. That transitions us to the first goal which the defense was having an off night with their marking – simply look at the conversations Tim Parker and Teenage Hadebe were having which at times looked heated. It’s not that they got beat on one corner, but that they allowed several within the first few minutes. Moving higher up the field, the Dynamo couldn’t string more than a few passes in Colorado’s half before turning the ball over which then provided the visiting team to create chances. It simply was a poor effort out of the gate with the team not focused or confused tactically with a different formation.

2) One of our writers, Zach Beery, did a great write up of how we’re doing this season in comparison to other seasons in recent history and…the Dynamo aren’t very good right now. One huge issue is the fact that Tab Ramos is often deploying several central defensive midfielders together. It’s difficult for Matías Vera or Derrick Jones to push higher up and be effective when they’ve been more disciplined to be defensive oriented. Vera has been better in recent weeks, and Jones and Joe Corona have been good, but together it isn’t a recipe that consistently supports the forwards who have been starved. Obviously the forwards have some issues of their own, but numbers up the field is how you score goals outside of counter attacks. In general it creates a lot of gaps in the midfield which isolates the offense while allowing opposing defenders to push higher up without much consequence giving them numbers in attacking areas. This needs to change for the Dynamo to do well. There needs to be more offensive/defensive balance and that starts in the midfield.

3) I said it before and the defense was just off. Players were missing assignments, players were getting caught up the field missing tackles, and they were making poor passes out of the back. The Dynamo defense, despite the record, has genuinely been good this season and this was clearly an off day. The lack of offense and ability to possess and pressure up the field made the defense a more glaring issue than one I’m concerned about down the road, but this wasn’t a good showing by them.

4) To end on a somewhat high note, I’ll say the Dynamo did make some good adjustments after halftime. They changed their shape, increased their possession, and looked dangerous going forward. However, their concentration slipped – or Colorado’s determination kicked in – and the visitors had a lot of good chances after the early pressure by the Dynamo. That led to the Dynamo sitting slightly deeper to defend and the Rapids took the space and increased their chances. I liked the adjustments we made after equalizing before halftime, but sometimes it just isn’t your day and the Rapids proved it.

5) This is for people in the stands, but stop it with that homophobic chant at the goalkeeper. I know it’s not everyone. But we have to stop this. It’s hateful, it’s childish, and it’s embarrassing. There’s nothing wrong with some good fun at the opponent’s expense, but this isn’t that. And it doesn’t help you in stoppage time down two goals so stop.