Houston Dynamo FC are unbeaten in their last four matches including back-to-back wins with their latest being a wild 4-3 victory over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes and the previous fixture being the Dynamo’s first win on the road since 2020. The Dynamo under the leadership of Head Coach Paulo Nagamura has been able to win games and get points over sides they should which isn’t something the team was capable of in recent years. Houston currently sits in the 6th place spot in the Western Conference and while there have been a few growing pains during a year that’s seen plenty of renewal, at the moment Nagamura’s side has been getting the job done.
I made some remarks about this in the game’s recap so check that out for a more detailed breakdown, but this was a game that was played with a lot of pace by both sides. Glenn Davis has repeatedly noted that Nagamura has wanted the Dynamo to be a team that both presses and possesses the ball well. While the Dynamo were successful at pressing, the team has not shown signs of being a team that can build up play to break down teams. They didn’t need to against the Earthquakes to be fair who also opted to bypass the midfield to try and get the ball up the field to the attacking players ASAP.
Houston’s approach, where they’ve found success, has been to find Darwin Quintero and let him pick out one of our speedy wingers and take on a stretched out back line. The Dynamo also demonstrated their vastly improved set piece delivery from corners.
San Jose primarily played quickly and the Dynamo defended to push their attack wide to slow them down in the final third. They did this fairly well, but it wasn’t completely successful…
Defense an early concern?
Any time a team gives up three goals this has to be a question, even in a win. The things that stood out to me were even though the midfield and defenders were good at marshaling the Earthquakes’ offense out wide, defensive assignments were often missed which allowed San Jose to not only equalize, but to take the lead at one point. Griffin Dorsey, who has largely cemented his role as starter at right back, often gave up space on the wing which provided time to pick out passes to forwards. The center backs in Teenage Hadebe, who was played well this season, and Ethan Bartlow looked out of sync which also led to missed marking. To make matters worse, Hadebe had to be subbed off due to injury late in the game which could be a concern down the line. Despite some of my criticisms, many of them are small and can be fixed with better communication, but they’re still worth addressing in a game when you give up three at home.
Sebas on the scoreboard
On to some positive news, it was fantastic to finally see Sebastián Ferreira get on the score sheet not once, but twice. The player with the most expensive transfer fee in club history had been under some scrutiny with him unable to find the back of the net, but against the Earthquakes he ended his drought with a brace. The goals were good too with the opening being a designed play off a corner where he scored through traffic. The second Fafà Picault had the defense collapse around him before poking it to Sebas who took a few touches to set himself up to score. Not everyone would take those touches which shows a bit of confidence and instinct he gained from the first goal. He’ll need to continue his production, but for now I think the early criticism can recede a bit and his confidence can grow having been named to the MLS Team of the Week for his role in the win over San Jose.
More tests coming up
Nagamura and the Dynamo have shown resolve in their recent run of results. They’ll have a tough test in the Portland Timbers coming up and then a midweek US Open Cup match with Rio Grande Valley FC Toros which should test how Nagamura manages his lineups before an away match at FC Dallas. This should be an important stretch to see how they can carry their success from their recent results forward and how substitutions and role players can contribute and push starters for minutes.