For the first 10 minutes, it looked as though Houston Dynamo FC players would keep up with Philadelphia Union on the road.
Technically, Houston Dynamo FC had a chance for consecutive road wins for the first time since 2013. The reason this didn’t happen – that chance came with Philadelphia Union at home where they haven’t lost this season.
Almost every Houston weakness went head-to-head against Philadelphia strengths. To his credit, head coach Paulo Nagamura prepared for that problem by fiddling a bit with the forward lineup.
But almost every Union player on the pitch performed in this match at superstar-level. The Houston starters were no match as six goals rained into their net for a shutout.
Yet, two Dynamo players stood tall against Union. Nagamura can get more players performing like those two, the team just might sneak into the post-season, as long as they don’t face anymore like Philadelphia.
Two stood tall
He wasn’t in until the 73rd minute, but attacking midfielder/forward Darwin Quintero ran onto the pitch and made a case for starting the rest of the season. And those starts should come as a second striker.
Almost immediately, Quintero crossed the ball to forward Fafa Picault for a shot. He registered two dispossessions, 12 accurate passes, and one key pass before the shutout finally ended.
Quintero debuted with the Dynamo in 2020. He came from Minnesota United, where he scored the most goals and assists in club history over three years.
Fafa Picault started and played for the entire match. While the team overall has performed poorly this season in winning aerials.
Winger Picault joined Houston in 2020 after one season with FC Dallas. There he scored three goals and two assists in 18 games. He started both Dallas playoff games at the end of that season.
He also played three seasons for the Union, with 21 goals and 12 assists.
The weaknesses Houston suffers most in aiming toward post-season MLS play are right where Quintero and Picault want to play. They’ll need more players to study their style in game situations and do likewise.
The Dynamo forwards and midfielders will have to be quick-studies, as well.
But the Dynamo have to focus on one more thing, other than starting Quintero and coaching up the squad for the rest of the season.
Forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson isn’t where the team needs him to be just yet. But he will be. In the ill-fated Philadelphia match, he was the only forward registering tackles – three of them. He also got in a dispossession.
That forward will require some patience while the team fine-tunes for the rest of the season. But patience and coaching invested in Ulfarsson will be worth it in the long-term.
The season isn’t getting any younger and the post-season will be here before you know it so we shall see.