When Publius Decius Mus was crossing the river, I’m sure he chatted up the Boatman. One of the questions that was probably asked by the Boatman was, “Was your defeat at Asculum worth it?” While I never met the man, I like to think the Consul smirked and retorted, “Pyrrhus wasn’t able to raise an army against us after that, was he?”
It feels like Houston Dynamo interim head coach Wade Barrett might have been thinking the same thing Saturday night.
Also worth pondering is this: if majority owner Gabriel Brenner were to use everything up to and including the final match against FC Dallas, would anyone get to keep their job in 2017?
One person who most definitely would is Brazilian midfielder Alex Lima, one of the best players this season. He continued his excellent run by scoring a world class goal in the 19th minute.
Christian Maidana began the sequence by playing the ball out wide to Sheanon Williams. The right back did some back and forth with Oscar Garcia to create space while Alex worked his way up the field. Garcia slotted a pass to Alex at the top of the box who danced laterally past two defenders to find some space and blasted a shot past a diving Chris Seitz, who had no chance.
It wasn’t just the goal, however. Alex did a great job of keeping Dallas’ attack quiet in the first half, alongside Collen Warner and Eric Alexander.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep any of the momentum going after the whistle for the second half. Whatever tactical changes Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja came up with during the break, plus bringing in Canadian midfielder Tesho Akindele early on, broke the Dynamo down. Akindele attempted a shot on goal but it was deflected by the outstretched arm of center back Raul Rodriguez who was whistled for the foul. Mauro Diaz easily slotted home the ensuing penalty kick to tie things up.
After that things went right down the tube and Houston wasn’t able to recover.
Still upset over conceding a penalty kick and the goal, the entire team switched off, allowing Maynor Figuero to send a perfectly placed long ball towards Michael Barrios who skipped past the defense and beat Joe Willis to take the lead. All within seconds of tying the game up.
A light switch went on for the visitors as they dominated every aspect of the game after that, leaving Houston no chance to get back into things. Barrios earned his brace in the 79′ with Akindele again causing trouble for the Dynamo. His pass found an open Barrios who curled a shot past Joe Willis to ice the game.
At that point fans rightfully began to worry.
Earlier that day they’d seen DC United absolutely destroy the Chicago Fire and Dallas was playing with the same kind of domination.
Despite not controlling the game, Houston was able to see the match out and it ended 3 – 1. Things could’ve been far worse for the Dynamo had Chicago gotten any points but with their beating in the nation’s capital, Houston remains 2 points up on the Wooden Spoon leaders.
In more good news, with the not-quite-so-lopsided loss, the Dynamo get El Capitan back for the first time since 2012. Hopefully someone will travel up to Frisco to bring it back in time for Houston’s away match with CD Guadalajara next Sunday (no, that’s not a typo. More on that later). The sound of the cannon being fired ahead of every game will be about the most exciting thing that’s likely to happen for the remainder of the season.
With the season effectively over, all that is left for Houston is to keep the lowly Fire in their wake and give some players on the end of their bench, or down with en fuego Rio Grande Valley FC, minutes to asses their future with the team. That includes mid-summer signings such as Jose Escalante and Keyner Brown, who have been with the team for over a month and barely gotten onto the bench, much less kicking a ball in anger.
Academy players signed to MLS deals, Memo Rodriguez and Christian Lucatero, are also options. At this point the Dynamo have little to lose, but if fans are expecting to see any of these players, and others, given extensive minutes they shouldn’t hold their breath. It seems that Barrett is determined to run out his best players until he wins the head coaching job.
And frankly, if that is what management wants, who can blame him?
Granted, there’s something to be said about the higher ups if that is the case, but that is a rant for another day.
The Dynamo go on the road for three games. First against CD Guadalajara during the FIFA break, then on to Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake before returning home to square off against the reigning champions on September 24. Dallas meanwhile continues their hunt for the Supporter’s Shield with a three game home stand against the aforementioned Timbers, Shield rival Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution. The middle match could very likely determine who wins the Western Conference and quite possibly even the Shield itself.