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Jul 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis (11) battles for the ball with Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom (28) at BMO Field. The FC won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Dynamo at Toronto: Snatching Defeat from Jaws of Victory

In the aftermath of the Houston Dynamo managing to turn a 2-0 lead into a 4-2 loss, our co-editor Leopold Ponce takes a look at what happened.

Urgency

Let’s be honest for a second. If you go back and watch the first 30 minutes against Toronto. It is true that the Dynamo were leading 2-0. However, I cannot say that they were actually dominating. It may have looked like Houston was always on the attack, however, that same urgency that made them look so good ended up being their downfall.

When the Dynamo had possession of the ball they quickly launched into the attack. It worked to take the lead, but it started magnifying their weaknesses. It quickly became apparent that the Dynamo were ineffective in setting up an attack in the final third outside of the flanks.

This has been apparent to every Houston fan the whole season, and to other teams that have faced us. This was the first meeting against Toronto and they weren’t prepared for that at first. Eventually, though, Houston showed its hands and any effective attack was squandered.

Even when Houston was attacking on all cylinders, that urgency was not necessarily a good thing. Houston’s attacks left them open for counters. All Toronto had to do was be patient and eventually opportunities were going to come. Oh boy did those chances eventually come.

The Dynamo gave up too much space attacking instead of actually trying to hold possession and slow the game down. Houston was in the lead, they had no reason to be playing at a quick pace. It almost seemed like they wanted to exercise all of their demons in one single game.

I know that hindsight is always 20/20 but through analysis of past mistakes we can become better. If it was apparent to a schmuck like me that Houston needed to try to hold possession to slow down the game since Toronto was looking more and more dangerous as the game went on, then why wasn’t this apparent to Dominic Kinnear and the rest of the Houston Dynamo?

Individuals Shine as Team Falls

In my previous article about the Houston Dynamo’s identity crisis, I brought up how Houston was not really a team and just a string of individual performances. This game only proved that even more. Brad Davis has had an assist or goal in the past 8 games that he’s been able to start in. That’s great for Brad Davis, nobody on this team deserves more praise than he does. However, that’s not what should be happening.

Jul 12, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Luke Moore (27) heads the ball against Houston Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark (13) at BMO Field. The FC beat the Dynamo 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

We have become to dependent on him. Dependence on Davis only showcases how Boniek being played in the center is muting his performances. Since, Oscar Boniek Garcia is being played in a position he’s less effective in, he cannot take away some of the pressure Davis currently has. Eventually a time will come when Davis will not be able to either score a goal or get an assist in a game. Once that time arrives, we will need somebody to be there to do it.

Giles Barnes had a superb game against Toronto. He assisted Davis on both goals. If a forward is not scoring, but is at least helping others score by getting assists or opening space for others by pulling away defenders, then he is doing his job. He’s been making great runs at goal all season, and starting off offensive plays.

This game showcased what Barnes has been doing all season. He often gets criticized for not scoring goals, but it cannot be denied that he has been an integral part of this season. If we are this bad with him, I don’t even want to imagine how horrible we would be without him.

Early Urgency Comprises Defenders

That urgency that I spoke about early in the game ended up costing Houston the game in multiple ways. It not only allowed Toronto the space to attack us on the counter, but it also forced our defenders to slow down attacks by committing fouls.

Eventually, these fouls caused defenders to get early yellows. By the end of the first half, three out of four players in our back line had yellow cards. No defender can be expected to go all out after being cautioned. It’s a shock that nobody was ejected. However, it did comprise Houston to the point that eventually Toronto took the lead and scored another one for insurance purposes.

Our defense also gave up tons of space in the final third by not spreading themselves out more. They were bunched up and defending attacks coming from the middle, while leaving the flanks open for attacks.

Another instance that showed some ineffective defending was the fact that Defoe was not double teamed throughout the whole game. When he was in the attack, more than one player should have been marking him. This is exactly what eventually led to the tying goal and goals in the end for the Toronto victory.

Other Notes

We cannot ignore Tally Hall’s spill that led to the tying goal either. He had the ball in his hand but let it spill for an easy goal. Hall has been a good goalkeeper for Houston, and without him we would have allowed more goals this season. That does not mean, however, that we can overlook his mistakes.

His positioning has been off in some games, and if it weren’t for his amazing shot-stopping ability and reflexes more goals would have been scored on him. Hall cannot distribute the ball effectively and in some instances his lack of distribution has led to some mistakes in which he has practically started off attacks for our opponents.

Houston’s depth should also be noted. If somebody like Servando Carrasco is coming off the bench just to make horrible passes that lead to goals, then we cannot be expected to get any victories when our starting eleven isn’t performing on all cylinders.

I won’t touch on Bruin’s performances because I’m already under fire for doing so, but he did play a role early in the game by pulling defenders his way and making decent passes. However, he was a non-factor for the rest of the game.

We are now faced with the task of trying to get two victories out of every three games in order to contend for a playoff spot. Let’s see if this is possible, but I am not holding my breath.

Tags: Analysis Brad Davis Giles Barnes Houston Dynamo

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