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Pre-season Observations from the Houston Dynamo vs. the Colorado Rapids

Early, early takes from the Houston Dynamo preseason match against the Colorado Rapids

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Houston Dynamo FC Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Dynamo FC haven’t had many preseason fixtures streaming, but they did this last Saturday and I’ve provided a few of my personal thoughts on how the team and newly minted Head Coach Paulo Nagamura have done in their 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids.

The Start

It’s preseason isn’t it! The Dynamo didn’t come out hungry, well organized, they were overly conservative, and struggled to move the ball up the pitch for extended stretches early in their first streamed game this preseason. Often times the Dynamo players were sitting too deep early into a game in a neutral venue and didn’t do a good job connecting with the forwards. The space between the defenders and the midfield also created gaps for the opposition to penetrate and find ways to possess in our half of the field. After failing to really find ways to push the Rapids back, Colorado was able to score on a brilliant ball delivered by Lucas Esteves to Diego Rubio.

The Response

Despite a poor early showing the Dynamo definitely played their way back into the game by increasing their possession – specifically higher up the field – and found ways to counter attack directly and more effectively. While play out wide wasn’t very positive throughout the game, Houston did well with their movements up the spine, or middle, of the field which helped lead to an equalizer. Matías Vera played a great ball to Sebastián Ferreira to hold up play and set up the entire sequence which was an incredible read by the new designated player. Ferreira played Fafà Picault through on goal to finish the play, but still tore off from his defender as an option and made himself available to equalize. Picault, overrun by defenders, squared it for a great finish by Ferreira.

It definitely seemed like the early goal woke the Dynamo side up and they began to play more into the style they’ve trained – or they adjusted well to the early deficit. After the equalizer, it felt Houston had found more rhythm and their comfort zone and even had a chance to go up before halftime with a great read by Corey Baird putting him 1v1 on goal, but he squared it perfectly to Fafa who had the ball cleared off the line by Lalas Abubakar.

The Second Half

The Dynamo entered the second half with an entirely different XI and it really did well. Colorado didn’t make changes at the start of the second, but Nagamura really did something interesting. He provided largely fringe players and Dynamo 2 players with a foundation of possession based players in Joe Corona and “Coco” Adalberto Carrasquilla. This let players focus on their own strengths while giving them reliable holding and creative midfield players to work around. The result was high energy pressing and an attacking style that produced. It wasn’t flawless as the team did concede, but at the death Coco was able to steal the show and deliver on his own with a solo goal.

Conclusions

The new Houston Dynamo era under Pat Onstad and Paulo Nagamura have progress to make at least from this showing. However, they’re clearly moving in the right direction and it’s hard to argue with a win. Things are coming together. I hope we learn to start on the right foot and be more engaged early, but I like how we responded to the early goal deficit.