Houston Dynamo-4 Orlando City FC (OCFC)-0 (BBVA Compass Stadium-Houston)
HOU: Elis-23 (DeLaGarza), Manotas-51 (Alex), 65 (Quioto, Alex), Quioto-75 (Manotas) OCFC: None
A Track Meet
The Dynamo knew that Orlando City had played a midweek game in Canada and were going to arrive in Houston tired. So they decided to turn their attackers lose and let them run at the OCFC defense all night, despite the absence of leading scorer Cubo Torres. And run they did. Alberth Elis tormented Orlando left back Danny Toia all throughout the first half. At times it looked like the entire Dynamo tactical game plan was just to kick the ball to Elis over the top and let him run on Toia. Elis made him look silly on the first goal and reigning MLS Player of the Month, OCFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik, didn’t help matters by getting beaten at the near post. When Elis was not running at the defense, Mauro Manotas, who scored twice after pulling an early penalty wide-left of the goal, and Rommel Quioto took over. Even an early game-ending injury to Eric Alexander couldn’t stop the onslaught. Only the Manotas miss kept OCFC in the game at the half-time break.
Why Can’t the Dynamo Do Something Remotely Resembling This Away From Home?
Houston now has 16 points from nine matches and sit in third place in the conference. They did not get to this point total until July during last years forgettable season. The club is taking care of business in BBVA Compass Stadium (5-0-1) and many nights is running teams out of the city. Then there are the eggs they laid in both New England and Toronto recently. Somehow the team has to figure out how to combine a sound tactical plan (which hasn’t been in evidence away so far) and self-confidence to be competitive on the road. After Friday nights game against Vancouver, they play 5 out of the next 6 on the road. This would be a good time to start.
MLS Team of the Week Honors Beckon
CJ Sapong who scored a hat-trick in Philadelphia’s rare win yesterday is likely a lock for a Team of the Week selection and should be Player of the Week. A very strong case can be made for Manotas and Elis to be the other two forwards. In addition to the three goals they scored, they had five shots on target, more than the entire OCFC side had in the game. Their Audi Index scores were both above 800…Elis at 869 and Manotas at 855. Admittedly, this score can be deceiving. The highest Orlando score was delivered by midfielder Luis Gil, who had zero impact on the match and didn’t win any Orlando fans over on social media with his “performance”. A shout out to Alex, who delivered another two assists and quietly continued to be the best player in the league few are talking about.
Giles Barnes Accomplished Little On His Return to Houston
Barnes used to play his best games at home. Apparently returning to BBVA Compass in an visiting jersey was enough to render his efforts futile. He airmailed one excellent opportunity when he broke free cutting across the top of the penalty area in the second half. Otherwise he accomplished little (Audi Index score of 99) and was substituted out in the 58th minute.
Real Salt Lake (RSL)-0 FC Dallas (FCD)-3 (Rio Tinto Stadium-Sandy, UT)
RSL: None FCD: Urruti-3 (Penalty), 90+1, Hedges-67 (Acosta)
There was no way this game should have finished 3-0. This doesn’t happen in Salt Lake City. But FC Dallas are quietly efficient and ruthless. This team has figured out how to do what is necessary to choke the life out of mediocre opponents. To be fair, RSL was playing with one hand tied behind its back. Missing a substantial part of its defensive back-6 and sitting Joao Plata for disciplinary reasons, RSL didn’t really need to have the best team in the league come to Sandy Saturday night. Other teams may have let their guard down against weakened opposition and kept them in the game, but not a side as focused, determined, and yes, ruthless, as FCD seems to be every week.
Maxi Urruti Doesn’t Get the Attention He Deserves
Everybody is in love with the big name DP’s and the young Atlanta United forwards. If you took all of the ink (old school) that is been spilled over Martinez, Almiron and Villalba and the sexy story of the moment in Atlanta and gave it instead to Urruti, it would certainly be well deserved. He would still be ignored. He plays for FC Dallas, a club that has virtually no English language national TV exposure, so he is wallpaper. Two more goals last night, placing him among the league leaders despite playing two less games than most. I also say we should have four forwards on the MLS Team of the Week. By the way…a reminder….FCD is the only undefeated team in the league.
They are not a cool story anywhere (even in Dallas) and we have ESPN and Fox to partially thank for that. There is a certain amount of rationale for the invisibility though. Unfortunately, the two Texas teams (and their dead stadium atmospheres) are not very interesting to the English language national audience and the TV ratings seem to support this belief. This is not unusual. With the exception of the Dallas Cowboys, there are no Texas professional sports teams that generate interest outside of the Southwest. Professional soccer should be different though. There are not decades of history to determine who should be covered and who shouldn’t be, as there is in the other sports. Like the Dynamo teams of the last decade, the media powers to be just want FCD to go away so they can get back to the stories they want to tell.
It is not surprising, I suppose, that the Texas teams are well represented on the Univision telecast schedule this year. Maybe the management of our clubs should pay more attention to trends like this as they try to figure out how to fill the stands and improve the in-stadium atmosphere.