You know, there comes a point when everyone wants to bang their head against the wall until the frustration goes away. Maybe it is the ensuing headache, maybe it’s the hole that appears. Whatever the case, it’s better than the 4 – 1 thrashing that Atlanta United put on the Houston Dynamo Saturday night.
The scoreline is flattering to the Dynamo, who were never in the match, and with some ore luck (and better finishing) they could have turned this beat down into a rout. Instead they settled for a Miguel Almiron hat trick, with Julian Gressel adding the sweetener before Cubo Torres added dignity to the score line.
Atlanta’s opening goal came in the 30th minute with great passing down the throat of the defense. United worked the ball forward quickly and smartly. Yamil Asad dodged a tackle from AJ Delagarza and continued on, finding Almiron making a run past a flat-footed Adolfo Machado. Miguel picked his head up and blasted his shot from inside the penalty box.
His second goal came off a turnover deep in United’s half. Delagarza was caught along the touchline with the ball and was stripped of the ball by Asad. Atlanta went into the counter, with Almiron collecting the pass and pushing toward the box. Before a tackle came, Miguel laid it off to Gressel who took the ball out wide. Julian sent a looping cross that Asad one-timed centrally toward Almiron. The Paraguayan dodged a tackle from Leonardo and got his shot off just as a second came from Machado to no avail. Just before the half, the score was now 2 – 0.
Things didn’t get any better in the second half, with Juan David Cabezas picking up a loose ball in the Dynamo box. The Colombian took a half second too long to clear the ball, allowing Hector Villalba l more than enough time to poke it away and Gressel toslot the ball past Willis. Almiron completed his hat trick when he converted a penalty in the 80th minute, minutes after Gressel scored his goal.
Was the penalty correct? It was soft but when a defender puts their arms on the back of an opponent, it is just inviting the referee to blow his whistle, something Machado should have known.
Torres score his own penalty when Ricardo Clark tried to square a ball just before stoppage time but Michael Parkhurst was whistled for a handball while making a slide tackle. With the goal, Cubo moves closer to the Golden Boot leader, Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic (with 10 goals). Of course almost all of his goals come from set pieces but they count the same in the standings. Just something to consider.
Houston remains only 1 of 2 teams that has yet to pick up a point on the road in 2017. The other? Colorado Rapids. Not exactly the kind of company a team looking to rebound from a horrendous three seasons wants to keep (no offense Rapids fans). The argument that a strong home record can overcome these failings is flawed in that the long road trip can shatter confidence, leaving them vulnerable at home to a team desperate to make a statement. Say, just picking at random, Real Salt Lake. Even with the craziness that is Major League Soccer, dropped points at home will need to be picked up on the road.
There is little point in going over the reasons the Dynamo lost on the road, again. They’re no different than the previous time. Or the one before that. And so forth. The only other point of note to discuss was the formation change by Wilmer Cabrera. The coach opted to switch from his normal 4-3-3 and went with a familiar (to Dynamo fans) 4-1-4-1. It wasn’t a horrible idea at first as it allowed Houston to cope with Atlanta’s 5 man midfield. Unfortunately they weren’t able to get the ball to Mauro Manotas in any meaningful way, turning the offense stagnant. Chances were created but all went right towards Alec Kann, who wasn’t tested on the night. As the night wore on, Cabezas was instead beaten handily by Almiron, who exploited all the gaps between the Colombian and the center backs. In fact it was those three who had the poorest night for the Dynamo.
The first of two frustrating chances came in the first half from Andrew Wenger. The wide midfielder had cut instead and received the ball at the top of the box. He spun around the defender and opted to take a shot from the D instead of laying it off to one of his fellow strikers for a higher percentage chance. In the second half, Oscar Garcia collected a low cross near the penalty spot, sending a weak shot right at Kann. A few yards to Garcia’s left was an unmarked Manotas.
Houston continues their road trip with the beginning of the Battle for El Capitan in Frisco next Sunday. After that they return home briefly to square off against Real Salt Lake (*Cough* trap game *cough). Then it’s back on the road. Atlanta, meanwhile stays at home to square off against NYCFC before beginning their own road trip in Vancouver.
What did you guys think of the game? Whom are you most upset at? Think the Dynamo will ever figure out how to get points on the road? Can they hold onto El Capitan, the only trophy they’ve won in years? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook at KeeperNotes.