A lot of those covering the Houston Dynamo’s four-point holiday weekend have pointed to the explosive offense, especially in regards to last night’s win over Real Salt Lake. However, it’s more accurate to say that the four points were won by Houston’s favored son, Tyler Deric.
After being sat for the past 7 matches, the homegrown product was given the nod for the first rivalry match against FC Dallas on Sunday night. While the offense continued to stutter on the road, the defense did a good job of limiting Dallas to mostly half chances. They weren’t entirely successful, however, and required Deric to step up and make some incredible saves. Including this save on Kellyn Acosta that is a leader for MLS’ Save of the Year.
The Dynamo’s only real chance against Dallas came seconds after Deric’s save when Alberth Ellis cracked a long range shot on frame that Jesse Gonzalez pushed wide.
With that Houston finally got a point on the road, snapping a 5 game pointless streak on the road (oddly, the Dynamo finished 2016 with 5 consecutive games on the road where they got at least a point). More importantly, it set them up to reclaim the top spot in the Western Conference if they took advantage of a weakened Real Salt Lake.
Which of course they did, thumping poor RSL 5 – 1. Despite the scoreline, it wasn’t a dominating performance and indeed there are many things that Wilmer Cabrera, and fans, will criticize the players for doing. Too often the defense had a difficult time in not gifting the visitors dangerous set pieces. It was such a foul that lead to RSL’s only goal. After Juan David Cabezas fouled Albert Rusnak on the top of the D, Joao Plata stood over the ball and beautifully curled it over the wall and into the side netting to score in the 63′ minute.
Between both matches, the Dynamo were whistled for 29 fouls compared to their opponents’ 19. Overall, the Dynamo are 9th for fouls committed. While a large chunk of that comes from the fast paced, direct, in-your-face style that Houston favors, they have to be mindful of tackles on top of the box going forward. Especially on the road where the offense has yet to find their footing.
Of Houston’s league-leading 27 goals, only three have come away from the confines of BBVA Compass Stadium. While all the goals scored at home will go a long way to bringing fans back, though not soon or all at once, for any hopes down the stretch, Houston has to start putting the ball in the back of the net on the road. Fortunately they’ll get that chance very soon when they head back on the road for the most difficult stretch of the season.
Houston’s five goals started early when Mauro Manotas whipped in a cross to the opposite post where Elis was lurking. However, Justin Schmidt, rookie defender out of the University of Washington, lunged at the ball to and knocked it into his own net just three minutes into the game. His night didn’t get any easier as Houston constantly looked to work his side of the field. A dozen minutes later on a short corner, Alex dribbled past Schmidt and a host of other flat-footed defender and sent a low shot into the net from the top of the box.
Elis found Eric Torres at the top of the box just before half time. The Mexican International back-heeled the ball to an on-rushing Manotas who sent his shot between the legs of a diving Tony Beltran to give the Dynamo an insurmountable lead going into the lockerroom. Just seven minutes after the break, Elis drove deep into RSL’s half and sent a low cross across the box where Torres was lurking at the far post for a tap in. Houston’s final goal came in 68′ when Oscar Garcia sent a long, powerful cross into the box that Leonardo headed home with his best Brian Ching impression. With the five-goal outburst, Houston moves into the top spot for goals scored at home this season with 24, which of itself is more than all but three teams have scored total so far.
While there should be a lot of congratulations heaped upon Cabrera and his players, it should be put into perspective that RSL was decimated by injuries and international absences. In fact they’ve found it impossible to field a full strength lineup so far and they won’t be doing so anytime soon. With five players out for international duty and another four out for injury, the options for new coach Mike Petke was limited heading into the match.
With the win, Houston goes on the road for games against Seattle Sounders this Sunday to close out a touch stretch. After a ten day break, they travel across the continent to face off against NASL side North Carolina FC in the US Open Cup before turning back around for a huge match in Los Angeles. Real Salt Lake meanwhile heads up to Frisco this Saturday. After the break they host Minnesota before taking a California trip with visits to Sacramento for the US Open Cup and then San Jose.
Finally, hat-tip to homegrown player Jose “Memo” Rodriguez for getting solid substitution minutes. He continues to develop and hopefully will grow into the kind of midfielder the Dynamo will need to one day replace Ricardo Clark and the rest of the aging midfield.
Who was your top player over both games? Agree with us that Tyler Deric was dominant? Think Houston’s home performance will continue the rest of the way? Think the Dynamo will finally get a road win against a banged-up Seattle? How far will they go in the Open Cup? Whatever your thoughts, comment below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook at KeeperNotes.