Houston Dynamo FC followed up their most successful game of the season in their 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids. It was a big step up in terms of level of competition and despite trailing for the majority of the game, was relatively balanced with Tyler Pasher getting a goal before the end of it all to salvage a result. Here are just a few of my brief thoughts and interpretations from the match:
Likely a deserved result
As I mentioned in the recap, the way the two sides played, this was probably the most fair result given the back and forth nature of the game with neither really threatening to take control too hard. Colorado was the stronger side in the first half with Dynamo goalkeeper Steve Clark making a couple big saves, but Houston was more in control in the second as they took more possession and found ways to exploit mistakes that Colorado was increasingly making towards the final whistle. Speaking of those mistakes though…
That Tyler Pasher goal
Never give up, because sometimes when you think it’s over you can take advantage of a mistake or get lucky to improve the result of a game and two of our substitutes made a huge difference. Rapids’ goalkeeper William Yarbrough attempted to clear the ball towards the midfield line only to play it right to Memo Rodríguez. Memo chested the ball to himself and played Pasher through on goal who put the ball under Yarbrough to level up the game. It was a good finish, good assist, and honestly the way the Dynamo were playing a goal that was coming – it just waited until the very end. The offense for the majority of the game for both sides often relied on counter attacking with the midfield not nearly as present as the Vancouver game and from the wings. Houston will need to find ways to get their midfield more involved against stronger opponents, but considering the strength of the opponent and the way the team matched Colorado in general style of play, a draw isn’t so bad (more on that later).
Just PASH it right into the net @TyPash | #HoldItDown pic.twitter.com/dqZUwr4C8m— Houston Dynamo FC (@HoustonDynamo) March 20, 2022
Let’s talk defense
The first two games the defense was the star of the show for the Dynamo and it was again even though Tyler Pasher’s late goal was the headline. Colorado is a very good team having beaten Sporting Kansas City and Atlanta United earlier this season by a combined score of 5-0. The Dynamo read the runs very well and were up to the task clogging passing lanes in the middle forcing the Colorado’s players out wide while also making individual efforts on the wings to put the ball out of play to slow the counter attack down. Teenage Hadebe, getting his first start of the year, and Adam Lundkvist, wearing the Captain’s armband, were particularly impressive with their positioning. This was also a game with Tim Parker on the bench which was a bit of a head scratcher at the beginning, but ended up not hurting the team too much – a testament to the players’ performances and Head Coach Paulo Nagamura’s preparation and strategy.
The game in context
Lastly this is a great game to grow from. This team is a work in progress and it’s important to manage expectations with them. A lot of us have gotten overly excited with the outstanding offseason, but it takes time to develop chemistry, for new players to learn the league, and even time to make additional signings. The defense had been the biggest issue for the team last season and Nagamura has done a great job of addressing that early on. The offense was his next task and he’s gotten a win and a draw over vastly different opponents. Not every week will be an upward climb in terms of success, but acknowledging the process and assessing the result critically with that mindset is important. The draw against the Colorado Rapids, even though it being a draw at home, is progress. They’re a strong opponent and the Dynamo stayed in the game after going down a goal to come back to tie. There’s work to be done for sure like not going down a goal first in your own stadium, but within the larger picture of the development of the team, they’re making strides.