The ride couldn’t last forever as Houston Dynamo FC’s five league game unbeaten run was ended on the road when they traveled up I-45 to face FC Dallas in the first game of the Texas Derby. Both sides were coming off close US Open Cup victories during the week and the game very accurately could be described as back and forth. Sprinkle in a little controversy and you’ve got yourself a very memorable rivalry match at Toyota Stadium. Here are just a few of my brief takeaways from the game.
Outstanding start for a road game
Playing on the road in MLS is an incredibly difficult feat. Last season only 5 out of the total 27 teams finished with over 5 wins away from home. Going into last Saturday’s match, FC Dallas was tied for the second best defense in terms of goals allowed meaning…this game was never going to be easy. Houston on the other hand actually opened the game pretty well. They won possession in the back easily which removed potential opportunities and quickly advanced the ball to the forwards and attacking players. This created a fast paced and entertaining game that led to the Dynamo getting the game’s opening goal which was great passing on the wing which cut to the middle for Sebas Ferreira who opened up his shot and beat the FCD goalkeeper.
The story often goes with the Dynamo that after getting the opening goal, they’ll tend to sit back on their lead which almost always ends poorly. But the Dynamo actually continued to apply pressure during the first half and the early portions of the second. This kept Dallas from committing too many numbers forward as we were always able to come back the other way quickly due to the speed of our wingers along with Darwin Quintero who pretty much plays wherever he wants – and that’s okay. It was a much better and smarter start and middle part of the game, even with the lead away from home. However, it wouldn’t last because…
We did eventually sit back on the lead
There are plenty of arguments that the Dynamo should’ve been up 2-0 – more on that later – and this move would’ve been a little more defensible if that was the case. But we weren’t. Maybe it was the adjustments that FC Dallas made that pushed Houston into a corner, but I’m always of the mind that you have to be able to get out of your defensive third and keep their players back. Not being able to do so allowed Dallas to regain momentum and the crowd which propelled them back into the game.
Most following the game agreed that the equalizer was a long time coming, but it didn’t happen until the 87th minute so credit some quality defending up until that point. At that time, probably a 1-1 result would’ve been fair given how dominant the Dynamo had been earlier, but late in the second half was the home side clearly in the driver’s seat. However, the goal seemed to be deflating and the focus that Houston had seemed to go and it appeared Griffin Dorsey left his mark back post completely unguarded to give Dallas the game in stoppage. The Dynamo shouldn’t have allowed themselves to sit as deep as they did and they can’t lose focus. Yes Dorsey lost his man, but everyone needs to be communicating on set pieces in stoppage time.
That free kick
Our managing editor put out an excellent piece on some of the larger problems from this play and I encourage everyone to go read his more detailed take on the matter. My takeaway will be more in the context of just this game so keep that in mind.
Following Fafà Picault drawing a foul at the top of the 18 yard box, Memo Rodríguez stepped up to take the free kick which struck the underside of the crossbar bounced down and then was headed away for a corner kick. The question everyone has is whether or not the ball completely crossed the goal line and the answer you’ll get might depend who you ask. And that’s part of the problem. The angle shown to fans during the broadcast just plain stunk.
The Dynamo were told VAR was utilized and said it did not cross the line and therefore there was no need for center official Victor Rivas to take a look at it. From the fan perspective, both those at home and those attending at Toyota Stadium, we needed a little more assurance. Because the camera angles were bad, it’s very likely Rivas comes up with the exact same conclusion and rules there isn’t enough to overturn a no-goal call. That’s fine. However, very little time came to his decision and a brief look at the monitor could’ve at least quelled some of the outrage because to us we still don’t know whether or not that ball crossed completely. To us, what’s the purpose of looking at calls from VAR if not for this exact situation? It really didn’t matter given the defensive collapse late, but in sports the “what if” question is one that gets brought up often.