Houston Dynamo thoroughly dominated Columbus Crew SC in a 3 – 1 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday night. In their second outing of the season, the Dynamo’s vaunted offense truly exploded as all three strikers got onto the score sheet.
Young goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a terrible mistake to open the scoring. Following the tactics of Crew coach Gregg Berhalter, Steffen attempted to play the ball towards a defender but it was intercepted easily by Romel Quioto just outside the box. The Honduran International cut inside to evade a defender and slotted it between Steffen’s legs just two minutes into the match.
Before the game, one of the most talked about aspects was the tactical set-ups for either side. The Crew are very much a possession team who look to play out of the back, work the ball towards the wings and cross it into the striker or another midfielder making a run. Houston, meanwhile, put opponents under intense pressure to force mistakes and move the ball forward very quickly. Their hope is to isolate defenders and find a late runner.
It was that pressure that lead to the opening goal.
Despite their pressure, the Crew initially found shots hard to come by and Tyler Deric didn’t have much to do. After settling into the game, the visitors found some chances in the 28′ when they had three straight quality shots on goal. One came from the top of the box that Tyler deftly parried away while the other was from much closer. When Deric pushed it away, the follow-up shot was headed off the line by Dylan Remick, who took over the left back spot for DaMarcus Beasley on the night.
Houston doubled their lead in the 35′ when Alex took a near-side corner. His cross went over the head of Erick Torres at the near post but fell perfectly to the feet of young Honduran International Alberth Elis. His volley blew past Steffen and was made possible by the run of Torres, who drew three defenders towards him to leave Elis wide open near the penalty spot.
From there it was mostly smooth sailing for Houston.
They smartly closed out the half, denying the Crew much in the way off offense. Berhalter made a change at the half, bringing in Connor Maloney for Harrison Afful. Fortunately for the home side, they didn’t repeat the mistake made last week against Seattle Sounders: sitting back too early. They picked right back up and continued to press the Crew hard. This lead to the third goal.
After some fine goalkeeping from Deric, he restarted the play quickly. Alex picked his head up and saw the run from Torres and sent a 40 yard bomb down the field. The young Mexican took the ball down with a soft first touch and cut into the box. He then curled the ball around a defender and past a diving Steffen to make it 3 – 0.
It’s very similar to Quioto’s Goal of the Week winner. though closer to goal.
Houston had several chances to add a fourth, including a brilliant counter attack from Elis. He chased down an over-the-top pass but was a step too slow and collided with Steffen, earning a (harsh) yellow card instead. Quioto had a chance of his own that he should have crossed to Torres but instead missed his shot.
Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera brought in Mauro Manotas, who sored 6 goals last season down the stretch to give fans a glimmer of hope last season. The Colombian striker was lively in the attack, though showed some signs of rust. That will be worked off as he continues to spend time with his new teammates in training and on the field.
Fans also got their first look at Juan Cabezas. The tough defensive midfielder came in for the final 20 minutes and did a very good job to make life difficult for Crew playmaker Federico Higuaín.
To add salt to the wound for the visitors, Ghanaian International Jonathan Mensa was sent off in the 87′ for a hard, studs up tackle on Alex.
Despite being a man down, they did get a consolation goal deep into stoppage time. With mere seconds remaining, the defense fell asleep, allowing a low cross from Justin Meram to find Ola Kamara inside the 6 yard box to tap the ball into the net.
The Man of the Match is Alex with his two assists. The Brazilian is picking up right where he left off 2016 and is in fine form. An honorable mention has to go out to Remick. The former Sounder was solid defensively, making life difficult for the Crew’s offense on that flank. While he didn’t provide much going forward, that wasn’t what he was asked to do and instead cycled the ball into midfield for the more creative players to find the strikers.
Houston travels to Portland for a very tough game next weekend. The same Timbers side that destroyed Minnesota United on opening week 5 – 1. Then they return home to face New York Red Bulls on April Fools. The Crew travel to Washington to get souvenirs from RFK Stadium in a game against DC United before making a homestand on March 25 against Portland and Orlando City the following week.
What did you guys think of the game? Impressed with the offense? Was Torres’ rendition of The Robot the best you’ve ever seen? Think Alex can keep up the assists? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comments section below or hit us up on Twitter and Facebook at KeeperNotes.
Oh and enjoy this picture below.