Houston Dynamo FC got their first win of the season in a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps following a season opener scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake and a 1-0 loss on the road to Sporting Kansas City. Despite the tight score line against the Whitecaps, the Dynamo were in complete control led by their very own “Scientist of Goals”, Darwin Quintero. The difference in this game compared to others? Well it starts with…
A stronger and more attacking oriented lineup
The defense had been the key to the first two matches allowing just one goal in the two games with goalkeeper Steve Clark playing a large role. However, the offense wasn’t there…or really anywhere to be frank. Finally Dynamo Head Coach Paulo Nagamura opened things up by playing Adalberto “Coco” Carrasquilla alongside Darwin Quintero in the midfield which stretched the midfield out creating space. The result of a less condensed midfield made players harder to mark, but also playing creative passers like Coco and Quintero made runs for the forwards easier to make. Simply put this was a more balanced lineup from both sides of the field and Nagamura correctly substituted his more defensive players towards the end of the game to see the result out.
They’re having fun
Another bonus to having a more balanced lineup that emphasizes getting offensive players opportunities to score: it’s more fun! On the broadcast announcers Glenn Davis and Eddie Robinson pointed out that they looked like they were having a good time on the pitch. Basically combining to try and set up teammates and having plenty of possession to tally up the attempts not only makes for attractive football, but it’s pretty entertaining for the players as well. And that kind of mentality reduces stress and the weight that comes with being a professional athlete. Essentially, you’re doing what you love, it’s working, and it’s fun for us too.
That Vancouver goal
That was unlucky for the Dynamo. It was a terrific feat of passing by the Whitecaps and inch perfect placement by Cristian Dájome to Lucas Cavallini for the opening goal. The momentum was firmly with the Dynamo, but this kind of play shows that even on the road while not in the “driver’s seat” in terms of level of play that you can still take control of the game. Obviously it didn’t last nor did the result, but it was a well put together goal by the away side. Maybe Steres and Parker should’ve been on the same page more and the marking could’ve been tighter, but this kind of goal is the kind I’d like to see the Dynamo put together more on the road when they’re fighting an uphill battle.
Better passing out of the back
Lastly I want to highlight the quick and accurate passing out of the back. I already mentioned the spacing created by stretching the midfield out, but the quick passing from the back and the nice 1-2 touches from the defense really helped keep Vancouver’s attacking players behind the ball as they attempted to press. The result was an even more open midfield and that helped keep the ball with the Dynamo and advance it quickly to the forwards in the Whitecaps’ half of the field. It was refreshing to see not just a team that held the ball for the majority of the time, but use that possession to attack frequently. Hopefully the Dynamo can take these lessons and use them against stronger opponents and maybe on the road a game or two.