Houston Dynamo FC’s skid against Texas clubs continued last weekend with a 2-1 loss to Austin FC at PNC Stadium. Despite getting the game’s opening goal – and what a goal it was – they weren’t able to stop Austin’s possession and relentlessness to stay in the game and take the three points in Houston. Here are just a few of my brief takeaways from the loss.
Another strong start
Previous iterations of the Dynamo under Wilmer Cabrera and Tab Ramos often struggled out of the gate, whether they were at home or on the road. Head Coach Paulo Nagamura has the team starting out aggressively and the team has scored the opening goal in 4 of their last 5 league matches with the one game they didn’t being a 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers. Two of those games were on the road in Miami and Dallas so the quality of competition was varied. This is a positive sign, but finishing games, at least recently is definitely an area to improve.
Concerns on defense
Nagamura has shown some variation in his back four this season due to injuries, a suspension, and to just mix things up, but we’re starting to see some cracks. Adam Lundkvist and Teenage Hadebe have been pretty solid in the back and I think Tim Parker has been fine too. The right side though is often exploited because Griffin Dorsey often gets involved in the attack and can’t be back quickly enough which allows space for quick counter attacks. Additionally he gets caught ball watching a lot and that’s a problem. Whether or not his offensive production outweighs some of his defensive pitfalls is an interesting question about tradeoffs, but many people would like to see Zeca get a few starting looks.
Ferreira starting to find form
Apart from scoring a Goal of the Week candidate with his half field chip – which somehow isn’t blowing the competition out of the water – remember earlier in the year when we were concerned Sebas was struggling? Yeah, I don’t either. Ferreira has scored 4 goals in his last 4 league matches and seems to have regained his confidence scoring in a variety of different ways. He’s scoring on set pieces, from half field, and making great center forward runs. As if the half field chip wasn’t enough to show he’s got his swagger on, I’m liking some of the touches he takes in front of goal too as most players try to one touch the ball into the net, he shows the confidence and patience to touch around his defender and open up the net more. Ferreira is definitely starting to look like the player we thought he would be when he first arrived in Houston.
Lastly, I know it’s not easy to lose back-to-back games to Texas teams. It still stings for me too, but let’s put some of this all into context as I’ve seen way too many reactionary takes out there. First, the Dynamo are very much in a rebuilding phase and we appear to be making progress. I’d argue quite a bit of progress. FC Dallas and Austin FC are both good clubs at the moment and we lost by a goal in Frisco to one of the best defensive clubs in the league and lost to Austin at PNC Stadium by a goal to one of the best offensive clubs in the league. Going into these Texas matches, the Dynamo were unbeaten in five matches and had just won a midweek US Open Cup game. I know expectations were high coming into this season as we saw some pretty big changes. It’s a long season and the Dynamo are pointed in the right direction so let’s not get on this “Paulo Out” train or blow up every time we lose the game by a goal to a good team.