Dynamo group stage review:
A joint article written by the co-hosts of Keeping Tabs Podcast
Twitter: @KeepingTabsPod - Ran by Colin and Luke
3-3 tie vs LAFC
The Dynamo came out hot and played well against one of the best teams in the league.
After Houston came pressing and attacking hard, Memo scored a beautiful goal in the 9th
minute. Things were looking great. The Dynamo had LA on their heels and should’ve kept the pressure on them but in typical Dynamo fashion they allowed the tying goal to be scored within 10 minutes. It was just another example of Dynamo getting a goal and immediately begin playing lackadaisical. This became a common theme throughout the tournament. Memo scored in the 30th minute with a beautiful run paired with an outstanding pass by Zarek Valentine. As the second half came to a close the best possible case scenario happened. An Alberth Elis header helped us grab a 3-1 lead in extra time. Now the team was riding high. All we had to do was survive LAFC without their best player for 45 more minutes. 45 more minutes and we would have a win against arguably the best team in the MLS. Houston looked like it was ready to make a statement to the league and to themselves.
That changed dramatically in the 2nd half. We came out slower and less aggressive. LA got one of the goals back in the 63rd minute and tied it up only 6 minutes after that. Despite the huge swing of momentum Houston clinched up for the final twenty minutes and escaped with a tie. At first glance tying a team as dangerous and explosive as LAFC should be seen as a positive. But how we tied this game was almost too much to bear. We were dominating and had a multi goal lead. Having a game like that end in a tie is difficult. The Dynamo far too often pull ahead only to give the lead back in short order. This is a problem that has followed the team for years and it has to be solved before their can be any hope for a playoff birth. Another trend I noticed was the Dynamo’s strategy of offense against LA. They tried Hail Mary after Hail Mary to Alberth Elis and just hoped he could get the job done. I understand why they did this method. Houston didn't want to commit numbers to offence and then be caught sleeping on a counter attack so they decided to try and let Elis get out on the break as often as possible. Even then, this strategy resulted in us having possession only 35% of the time. It's just not a real tactic that is going to be successful in the long term. All in all, while Dynamo fans would’ve loved to win this match, Houston just couldn't get it done and escaped with a tie.
2-1 Loss to Portland
This was one of those games where the Dynamo couldn’t get the offense rolling at any
point. It was a competitive first half but it was obvious Houston was far from comfortable on the ball. As far as individual performances go this was one of the worst games I had seen from Boniek Garcia. He looked too old and too slow to be our box to box midfielder. Adam Lunqvist played poorly as well. Portland seemed content to sag off of him and dare him to make a play which he did not. The one saving grace in this game was Darwin Quintero. He looked cool and calm when controlling the ball. He set up multiple shots and had a great pass to give Elis a wide open look which missed far right. This was just a difficult game to watch where the Dynamo just looked outclassed and outplayed by a strong Portland squad.
The penalty kick on a questionable handball saved our goal differential from being too lopsided. Other than that there's not much to say on this game.
1-1 Tie to LA Galaxy
Coming off a draw and a bad loss, the Dynamo knew that this game was important. Four
games into the season and this Dynamo team are still searching for that elusive win. That
feeling of not getting a first win was starting to show in how the team played. It seemed like
nobody on the team wanted to hold the ball and make a play. Passes were slow or bad, runs
were late or unseen by the playmakers, and the team all around looked sluggish. Then Darwin Quintero scored on a set piece. After the lucky goal it was clear the Dynamo were going to sit back and hold on for the remaining 70 or so minutes. Having not learned from the LAFC game, this probably wasn’t in the team’s best interest. Houston Dynamo’s new goalkeeper, Marko Maric, played his best game yet for La Naranja. The reigning MVP Matias Vera held it down exceptionally well in defense, having to make many strong tackles. However, Dynamo being who they are, they could NEVER keep a lead. This has been an ongoing problem with the team for years now. After a bad challenge from Maynor Figueroa inside the box, a penalty was awarded in the dying minutes of the match. It was a pitiful performance for the whole duration of the match. And from that, Dynamo are out of the tournament and are sent packing.
The Good and the Bad
● Victor Cabrera
-Tournament rating: 7
-Reason for rating: At a position where depth is tested, he was given the starting role in
the game against LA Galaxy. He played noticeably above Struna and Figueroa in his
● Matias Vera
-Tournament rating: 8
-Reason for rating: He hardly put a step wrong in the 3 tournament games. Strong
tackles paired with smart forward passes makes for a strong player.
● Adam Lundqvist
-Tournament rating: 4
-Reason for rating: Not too good at attack and not too good at defense. He gets bullied
almost every game.
● Aljaz Struna
-Tournament rating: 3
-Reason for rating: Most passes attempted by him were just bad. Didn’t play great
defensive cover, either.
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