MLS Week 14 Recap

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FC Dallas (FCD)-6    Real Salt Lake (RSL)-2  

FCD:  Lamah-8 (Barrios, Gruezo), 22 (Urruti, Harris), 31 (Gruezo), Urruti-39 (Ulloa), Akindele-43 (Barrios), Ferreira-89 (Barrios, Diaz)    RSL:  Holness-70 (Plata), Beckerman-72 (Rusnak)

Four Observations

Real Salt Lake apparently doesn’t much like playing in Texas

On the heels of the 5-1 drubbing in Houston, I imagine RSL figured that it couldn’t get any worse.  Apparently, it could.  FCD dropped a six-spot on RSL, becoming the first team in MLS history to score 5 goals in the first half of a game in the process.  After last weeks complete embarrassment of a trip, Real is now 3-25-3 in Texas since entering the league in 2005.

Roland Lamah breaks out?

There is frequently an adjustment period when new players come into MLS from outside the country.  “Adjustment period” is one of nicer terms to describe Lamah’s performance to date this year.  A hat trick in 31 minutes may be the prescription for the breakout that will allow Lamah to become the kind of player FCD imagined when they used a significant amount of Targeted Acquisition Money to add him during the offseason.

Jesus Ferreira’s dream debut

FC Dallas Academy product Ferreira was signed to a first-team contract in the offseason when he was 15 years old.  Saturday night, with his 89th minute goal, he became the second youngest player to score in MLS history (on his debut no less).  Only Freddy Adu was younger when he scored his first MLS goal.

The good news from the Academy keeps on rolling in

MLS.com’s Matthew Doyle was full of praise for Academy product Victor Ulloa’s (Mauro Diaz like) pass that led to Maxi Urutti’s first half goal.  The video from mlssoccer.com below is self-explanatory

FC Dallas’s trip to play Portland Timbers next Saturday night is one of only three MLS matches during the International break next weekend.

Houston Dynamo-5    Real Salt Lake-1

HOU:  Schmidt (OG)-3, Alex-15 (Manotas), Manotas-45 (Torres, Elis), Torres-52 (Elis, Alex), Leonardo-68 (Garcia, Clark)    RSL:  Plata-63

Seattle Sounders-1    Houston Dynamo-0

SEA:  Bruin-69  (Roldan, Alonso)   HOU:  NONE

Three Observations

Win at Home…Lose on the Road

The pattern of the 2017 season so far.  What a marvelous performance Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake in BBVA Compass Stadium.  Then last night the Dynamo play a much more organized and mistake-free defense than they have done so far this season, but it wasn’t enough. Wilmer Cabrera has been upfront about the “work in progress” that is the Dynamo, especially on the road.  If this is true, Dynamo fans must take some consolation from the performances in Dallas last weekend and Seattle last night.  On the defensive side of the ball you clearly can see the work that is happening on the practice field.  After the game, Cabrera talked about the need to be more clinical in the finishing. Teams are not going to get a lot of good chances on the road.  Seattle, especially with the central defense pairing of Roman Torres and Chad Marshall, was not going to make many mistakes last night. Unfortunately, Alberth Elis was unable to convert on the one big defensive mistake made by Seattle late in the game.  Road points depend on taking advantage of these kinds of opportunities when they come along.  I suspect this miss was exhibit #1 of what Cabrera is talking about.

Will Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo sometime…

Former Dynamo Will Bruin was not supposed to play last night because of an elbow injury.  Since Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris were away on international duty, Bruin despite not having full range of motion in his arm, was in the starting lineup last night anyway.  Once I saw the starting lineup, I had a sinking feeling that Bruin was going to beat the Dynamo and that is what happened after he finished from inside the six-yard box off a superb Christian Roldan cross.  After the game he was quoted on mlssoccer.com about his reactions to the game-winner against his old team:

“I’ve just got to smile real big,” Bruin said. “It was good. I think the three points is great. [Against the Dynamo], it makes it a little sweeter.”

This celebrating is a little difficult for Dynamo fans to stomach.  It is hard to have any animosity towards Bruin because he did score 50 goals for the Dynamo.  That aside, he now has 4 goals so far this year…as many as he scored all last year in Houston.  Right after he signed a lucrative extension.  To be fair, much of Bruin’s nonperformance in Houston was not his fault. He was left on an island as a sole-striker much of his last two years with the Dynamo, not the formation to best utilize his skills.  There were, however, too many poor finishes during his time in Texas for him to play the victim here.  It was time for a change of scenery after last season since he had worn out his welcome.  He would not have fit in Wilmer Cabrera’s system anyway. I suspect this will not be the last goal Bruin scores against the Dynamo.  In an interview on Jason Davis’s radio show on SiriusXM FC (@SiriusXMFC) this morning, MLS Soccer’s Matt Doyle mentioned that Seattle only needed to part with $25,000 of allocation money to get Bruin.  If that is true, the Dynamo must have either been in a fire sale mode or wanted that desperately to get out from under his contract.

If it is any consolation after the loss in Seattle… 

In last week’s MLS games, home teams were 12-0-3.  According to stats put together by Paul Carr from ESPN (@PCarrESPN) home advantage has been bigger so far this year than any previous year in league history (0.688% winning percentage and 1.96 points per game).  So the Dynamo are not alone.  In his Soccer Matters radio program last week, Glenn Davis (@GlennDavisSoc) asked former New England manager Steve Nicol (@SteveNicol61) about the difficulty of away games in MLS.  My summary of what he said is that there is other league in the world that faces the road challenges posed by the travel, geographic, climatic, etc. conditions that exist in Major League Soccer.  He then cited traveling across the country from Boston to play in Los Angeles in March as a specific example of these difficulties.  When you combine all of this with the natural advantage for the home team, he then said that it is very hard to understand how difficult MLS road games are unless you have actually done it.      

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