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Quick Observations from the Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City

The Houston Dynamo did something hardly new, they lost on the road, but their defense is improving while the offense needs some tweaking

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Sporting Kansas City William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Following their 0-0 season opener against Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo FC went on the road to Children’s Mercy Park and fell 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City. While losing on the road is nothing new to the Dynamo, having failed to get the win all of last season in their bottom of the Western Conference finish, it was much more positive despite failing to produce a goal. Instead, the positives are on the defensive side of the pitch while the offensive side remains a work in progress. So let’s start with the positives:

The defense stifled the SKC offense

Sporting Kansas City was in the driver’s seat last Saturday afternoon. By that I mean they held an overwhelming advantage when it comes to possession. Possession statistics can be misleading, but holding the ball in an opponents’ half of the field gives you the advantage of defending less and advancing the ball towards goal more. Houston was content to sit deep, clog passing lanes in the center of the field, and focus on the counter attack. The result was forcing SKC out wide and allowing the offense to take a backseat to frustrating a SKC attack. Around halftime SKC had about 70% of possession and had amassed several shots, but the chances weren’t quality opportunities with just 1 being on target. The game opened up more following their goal with Houston no longer able to stick to their original strategy, but despite what I’d argue was a fluke goal, it was quite successful even though I am no fan of the strategy at all. A 1-0 defeat on the road against an opponent as good as SKC isn’t the worst result and the defense was largely up to the task of frustrating the home side for the vast majority of the game.

The offense on the other hand….

Well, that’s another story. See with the “road” mentality by Head Coach Paulo Nagamura, the strategy and energy was in how it could defend at Children’s Mercy Park. The offense was an afterthought with a counter attack centric mindset which is…well…lazy. The defensive scheme worked almost to a tee, but the offense was almost non-existent which was frustrating following another game with almost no offense. The Dynamo showed more promise after they shifted tactics following SKC’s goal, but they still failed to capitalize with a goal of their own. While the defensive effort should be a sign of praise in the new Dynamo era, the offense remains one to criticize at least at this point.

Don’t hit the panic button though

Dynamo fans, we’ve had it rough having only made the playoffs once in what feels like a hundred years with bottom or near the bottom of the table finishes. We’ve had our hopes rise this season with a new majority owner, new General Manager, new acquisitions, and a new Head Coach. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and it is important to manage our expectations appropriately. The Dynamo were one of the worst defending teams in 2021 and now have only conceded once in two games. In 2021 they had just five clean sheets and they have one already this season. The offense is not there by any metric. However, I’m already seeing the “Fire Paulo” going around which is just nonsensical this early. Take a breath and allow things to come together. If they don’t, I trust the front office to make the right decision at the right time.