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Breakfast Links - May 9, 2022

Dynamo struggles continue, Dash get big road win, Dos back to winning ways, and much more from a busy weekend.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Kansas City Current Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Breakfast Link May 9, 2022

Welcome back, I’ve got the links consolidated for you and while we know you could be reading anywhere during your Monday morning (insert routine) we recognize your patronage and extend our deepest appreciation to you and all our readers; you are more than appreciated. Plenty to digest this weekend so without further ado let’s jump right in.

Houston

The Houston Dynamo were away this weekend as they faced off against D.C. United. This was the first time the two had faced off at Audi Field and it would turn out to be a week to forget for the Houston Dynamo as they fell Saturday night by a score of 2-0. What can we say, one step forward and three steps backward for the Dynamo as they have now lost 3 in a row in their recent skid. These results were just as frustrating as the last three from the fans’ perspective as the murmurs of displeasure become louder amongst the masses.

There is a major disconnect between the players and what coach Paulo Nagamura is trying to accomplish, and it just appears they just aren’t on the same page right now. Coach Nagamura will go back and evaluate what needs to be addressed and make the necessary changes for their upcoming mid-week US Open Cup match. The possession in the midfield is all but nonexistent and the Dynamo have extreme issues handling any sort of press whatsoever. The decision-making and first touches oftentimes lack enthusiasm and creativity as they often find themselves giving away possession in the worst of positions. The early goal for the season was to try and find a way to hover around that 7th place spot in the Western Conference standings before Hector Herrera arrived, so they can give themselves the best chance at achieving the overall season-long goal of making the playoffs. This is becoming increasingly more difficult as we see the Dynamo struggling with teams like D.C. United albeit on the road, but the Dynamo just lack that fire, determination, and leadership. They desperately need someone to step up and take on a leadership role for the club and perhaps Hector Herrera will fill that role with his arrival to the club in July.

The Dynamo will need to try and put this rough stretch behind them as they return to action without reprieve against San Antonio FC this Wednesday May 11th as the two battle it out in the 4th round of the US Open Cup. The match will be played at PNC Stadium at 7:30 pm. SAFC most certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as they are full of talented individuals and very well-coached, which means the Dynamo will have their work cut out for them as they look for that get-right game and a ticket to the next round of the US Open Cup.

The Houston Dash took on Kansas City Current on Sunday evening and were able to take all 3 points on the road in a gritty performance by the ladies. This one was fairly even at the start until Michaela Abam’s quick-footed move in the box would draw a penalty on KC. Rachel Daly took responsibility of taking the PK and buried it, as she sent the KC keeper in the other direction. It was mainly all Dash from that point forward as they played really cohesive soccer and pressed extremely well, causing KC all sorts of issues trying to get back into the game. In the 87th minute Kansas City would have their best opportunity on the evening when Lo’eau Labonta sent in a blast from outside the box and Dash keeper Jane Campbell made an extraordinary diving save keeping the narrow lead safe.

As the match wound down, Rachel Daly played a lackluster ball in the air back toward the KC keeper. Substitute Brianna Visalli sprinted past the KC back line, who was caught ball watching. When the defense tried to get into the play, it was too late as Visalli was already in on goal unmarked. She was calm cool and collected as she sent her right footed shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. Sarah Lowden led the Dash to their exciting first win of the NWSL season and overall, the Dash played extremely well together this weekend. They will look to keep the momentum going as they head out for another away match next weekend, Saturday May 14th, this one being against Racing Louisville who the Dash have beaten the last 4 times they’ve met.

The “Smash Brothers” struck again as Houston Dynamo 2 dominated Colorado 2 at AVEVA Stadium on Sunday night by a score of 2-0. Coming off their only defeat of the season to the Tacoma Defiance last week, Coach Kenny Bundy clearly made the correct adjustments because the squad functioned like a well-oiled machine Sunday evening. Marcelo Palomino and his ability to fake and change direction leaving defenders empty handed is a joy to watch. Talen Maples had an excellent game as he not only scored in the 1st half but also had a calming presence as he directed traffic from his position on the back line. Maples is absolutely consistent and part of the glue that binds this highly efficient group. It must be mentioned that Micael Silva, who is a mountain of a man, made his first start for Dynamo 2 on the back line and he did not disappoint at all. The Brazilian had an excellent game all around as he made several key defensive stops and looked very comfortable. He even appeared to have some leadership qualities as he joined in on helping the squad hold their formations and cover their assignments, he will be one to watch going forward.

I feel like this is a reoccurring theme here, but Juan Castilla has been a pivotal piece of the foundation that allows this team to operate so smoothly. Castilla played 90 minutes and had 86% of his passes completed for the evening, won 10 duels (80%, 3rd most on the team) with 4 tackles which was tied for the most with Beto Avila. The kid hardly ever makes a poor touch, and you can bet you won’t catch him ball watching as his hustle is persistent. Beto showed out again with an outstanding performance as he only played 45 minutes but still led the team in duels won with 12. Jathan Jaurez got the start at outside back and played an extremely solid 90 minutes Sunday night. Juarez was 3rd on the team with 11 dues won and completed a very impressive 91.7% of his passes on the evening.

One of the more impressive stats on the night came from Papa N'Doye as he played 83 minutes and completed a whopping 100% of his passes. I could go on for a while about how good this team has been. Watching them play for each other and seeing what it means to them is a very rewarding experience. It also needs to be mentioned that the combo play between N’Doye, Ian Hoffmann and Castilla and their ability to break the press is only going to get better and that is troubling news for any who stand in the way of the Smash Brothers. The way Houston Dynamo 2 can orchestrate that highly efficient press while also maintaining their quality and pace getting forward makes for a nightmarish matchup for all opposing coaches and players. The Dynamo 2 will be back in action next weekend away against Minnesota United 2 at 5:00 PM Saturday evening.

MLS

The Seattle Sounders were unable to hold off FC Dallas this weekend as they fell 2-0 after their mid-week CONCACAF Champions League victory where they were dealt several major injuries. Most would say this result was to be expected, as Seattle rotated players into the starting lineup to try and bring fresh legs to the matchup, but it was to no avail as FC Dallas were able to take care of business this weekend as they defeated the exhausted and recently crowned CCL Champions.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Los Angeles FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC and the Philadelphia Union, who are both front runners from their respective conferences, faced off this weekend in one of the more exciting draws of the season so far. The fireworks started early in this one in the 8th minute when Carlos Vela’s cross would be cleared to a waiting Kwadwo Opoku who laced a low volley back toward goal narrowly missing the net. The scoring would open 1 minute later in the 9th as Daniel Gazdag scored his first goal of the season for the Union on a beautiful cross from Julian Carranza that was redirected by Kai Wagner on its way to the feet of Gazdag where he slotted it home without issue to give Philadelphia the 1-0 lead. LAFC would find their footing though, and in the 56th minute Kwadwo Opoku would get another opportunity on a beautifully redirected pass from Jose Cifuentes, and this time he would have no issue as he crushed it with his left to the near post, fooling the keeper who was expecting the shot to be fired across goal. Philadelphia would once again take the lead in the 67th minute when Daniel Gazdag’s excellent pass found Julian Carranza onside, and he was able to pull off the soccer version of the falling fade away as he placed it perfectly inside the post with his left from the top of the box. LAFC had already leveled the game once before and were looking to spoil the party again. They would get the opportunity they were waiting for in the 82nd minute from a corner as Jose Cifuentes’s header was saved and spilled to a waiting Franco Escobar who struck the 2nd effort over keeper Andre Blake who was already laid out on the ground from the previous save. Blake was unable to react at such short distance and thus unable to get a glove on it as LAFC tied this one up 2-2 late in the match on Saturday night. That indeed would be the final score as the two conference leaders each gained a point from each other.

FC Cincinnati made club history this weekend as they picked up their 3rd win in a row when they defeated Minnesota FC on Saturday evening. This is Cincinnati’s first time in club history to win 3 games in succession. It looked as though this wasn’t meant to be for Cincinnati as the match remained tied late into the game until finally that magical moment their fans had waited all game for had finally arrived. In the 93rd minute, Luciano Acosta would play a beautifully devastating ball in behind to Calvin Harris, who’d gained the edge on his run behind the defender and into the box where Harris played a nifty and precise cut-back pass to an unmarked Brandon Vazquez who buried it to give Cincinnati all 3 points.

Around the World

The EPL title race has been red hot in recent weeks, leaving fans wanting more as the giants of the soccer/football world battle it out in the waning days of the season. Liverpool and Manchester City are fighting for the right to be called league champions with just 3 games left in the season. Liverpool faced Tottenham this weekend and had a chance to keep stride with City but stalled with a 1-1 draw, leaving points on the board at a crucial time. The match saw goals from the prodigal Heung-Min Son in the 56th minute and Luis Diaz in the 74th minute. Neither team were able to muster the necessary prowess to push their side across the line and the draw will no doubt leave both teams disappointed and asking questions.

Manchester City v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Looking at the other side of the title race, there is Manchester City, and they eviscerated Newcastle on Sunday morning 5-0 leaving Newcastle and their fans embarrassed. The match saw a brace from Raheem Sterling and goals from Aymeric Laporte, Phil Foden and Rodri. With Liverpool only taking a point this weekend, Manchester City’s 3 points are massive and give them a narrow 3-point lead going into the last 3 games of the season. Liverpool have left themselves in a position where they almost certainly need to win out and hope City lose points somewhere in their final games. Will City drop points somewhere and leave the door open for yet another Liverpool comeback or will City finish strong and slam the door on any more title race talks?