A very successful weekend for FC Dallas after they bounced out of the CONCACAF Champions League last Tuesday. The Dynamo didn’t fare so well in New England.
New England Revolution-4 Houston Dynamo-0 (Gillette Stadium-Foxborough, MA)
NE: Kamara-52 Agudelo-72 HOU: None
A Comprehensive Loss
The game was fairly even at the half, but this state of affairs was fools gold. The Dynamo were blitzed from the start of the second half when the Revolution had the strong wind at their backs. Post-game, NE coach Jay Heaps discussed how he asked his team at the break to play the ball quicker to their strong fleet of attacking players. After 7 minutes of constant NE waves in the Dynamo end, it seemed inevitable that a goal would come. Unfortunately it did when the Revolution cut directly through the midfield and Kamara scored on a rebound, after Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric made the initial save. The second goal was basically all on Deric. It started with a poor distribution on his part and ended when he parried a shot directly back to Agudelo who wasn’t going to miss from that distance.
It is safe to say that the Dynamo are not going to win against good teams on the road with numerous starters out. The latest blow came when right back AJ DeLaGarza didn’t make the game day squad due to a calf injury. For some reason DaMarcus Beasley wasn’t in the starting lineup too. The biggest loss still remains Rommel Quioto, who despite all of the praise Cubo Torres is getting, was the best player on the squad before his injury a few weeks ago.
We Were Warned
We have been told by Wilmer Cabrera that the 4-3-3 high pressing style the Dynamo have implemented this season would mean the team would be vulnerable at times defensively. When the offense is effectively shut down, this means they have to play a perfect game to have a chance. Tough ask on the road…with 3 backline starters missing. Heaps praised the work of his triangle of two center backs and the defensive midfielder for locking down the back and allowing his team to attack in waves. No kidding. New England had 22 tackles won and the Dynamo had one shot on target all afternoon. The depth of the issue is highlighted by the fact that Houston’s three forwards had the lowest Audi Index scores of all of the starters, except Tyler Deric. When the ability to get the ball to the three high forwards on the counterattack is taken away, there has to be another plan. Unfortunately, the Dynamo do not have the midfielders to implement a Plan B when stymied. Maybe the summer transfer window will bring necessary reinforcements.
Perspective is Warranted
The Dynamo will play four of their next five games at home. The main task this season was improving on the woeful 2016 home record. So far they have three straight victories at home and need to pick up maximum points from the next four. The road (literally) gets more hard from there. I have to remind myself how difficult it is to win on the road in this league. No MLS team has finished with a winning road record since the 2014 season. Only one Western Conference team (Portland beat Philadelphia) won an away match yesterday. Even this Timbers victory has to be put into context. They are better team than the Dynamo and Philadelphia is not in NE’s class. One further challenge for this particular match was that the Dynamo’s all-time record on artificial turf was 3-19-12 before the loss.
Memo Make his Debut
Jose “Memo” Rodriquez joined a very small group of Houston Dynamo Academy members, who have played for the first-team in the MLS regular season, yesterday when he entered the game in the 83rd minute.
The Dynamo return home to face Minnesota United next Saturday night.
FC Dallas (FCD)-2 Minnesota United-0 (Toyota Stadium-Frisco)
DAL: Morales-43 (Zimmerman, Barrios) , Barrios-49 (Acosta) MI: None
Pundits talk a lot (somewhat rightly so) about the letdown MLS CONCACAF Champions League participants experience when they are inevitably eliminated from the tournament. These teams start preseason early and play many more intense games in the first few months of the season than other clubs. In FCD’s case specifically, given the bitter way the tournament ended for them, there could easily have been an emotional roller coaster to work through. None of this seemed to be an issue for FCD last night. To be fair, the visit of a poor Minnesota United side to Dallas might have been the right opposition, but it worked out well regardless.
Michael Barrios is Seriously Underrated
There are a lot of talking points when discussing the FCD roster. The homegrown talent, key off-season pickups, the call up of both center backs to the US National Team and the absence of Mauro Diaz because of his long-term injury are some of these. The emergence of Michael Barrios this season may be a bigger story of them all. His ability to destabilize defenses was on display in this game. Barrios’s Audi Index performance numbers for the night were only the 4th highest on the team, but his impact at the points that mattered the most were what was so impressive. His tactical awareness to pick out an open Walker Zimmerman with a precise cross to the back post led to the goal that Javier Morales scored when Zimmerman headed it into the six-yard box. Barrios then scored the second goal himself with a calm finish at the beginning of the second half. The impact Barrios has on FCD reminds me of how Brian Mullan, for different reasons, contributed so much to the Houston Dynamo back in their Championship winning days. Like Mullan, Barrios sometimes can be the one-too-many pieces that opposing teams have to take into account when figuring out how to defend FCD.
A New Starting Goalkeeper?
Minnesota has proven early in the season that they are a dangerous attacking team. This played out all throughout the second half last night as they created numerous opportunities (virtually all of their shots came in the final 45 minutes). Credit the outstanding work of Academy graduate Jesse Gonzalez for keeping them at bay. He made 5 saves and none of them seemed to be easy. Gonzalez was a starter for FCD during large parts of the 2015 season. After the tough night Chris Seitz had in Pachuca last week, maybe Gonzalez’s time has arrived again.
FC Dallas travels to San Jose to play the Earthquakes this Friday evening.