Houston Dynamo FC did nearly everything right preparing for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. But they still lost late 2-1.
Following an overmatched shutout at Philadelphia Union, Houston Dynamo FC coaching made adjustments as they headed to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Some of the adjustments were easy. Striker Darwin Quintero started up front. Coaches gritted their teeth and let forward Thor Ulfarsson continue to develop on the job, at least until the 83rd minute.
On the backline the team added Sam JunquaHe responded to that opportunity by outplaying everyone on the pitch. That performance included almost 56 accurate passes with one key pass, leading to an assist. Also, he got in two tackles and won two aerials.
The leak in the team’s strategy started with replacing half the defensive line from the previous game. Adam Lundqvist and Jose Carlos Cracco Neto gave way to Junqua and Zarek Valentin.
The Junqua addition was a great move for this match. Lundqvist wasn’t on the bench. Still, Valentin got replaced without much of a problem. But then Ulfarsson got replaced by defender Ethan Bartlow. That increased the leak in the game strategy.
With Vancouver one of the most evenly skilled teams Houston will face through the remainder of this season, that leaky aspect of the strategy was costly.
All Houston had to do is score twice to stay in the game. Adding to the line of defenders late in the game might sound like a good idea. But reducing Houston’s attack up front doomed the Dynamo for the remaining seven minutes plus four minutes stoppage time.
The visitors were correctly focused on Vancouver attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld. He’s proved an effective passing threat many times for the Whitecaps, especially late in matches. But Gauld had to reduce his volume after a yellow card in the 81st minute.
With Gauld on a short leash, some of the more unlikely Whitecaps players took over. Forward Simon Becher scored with a deflected ball in a goalmouth scramble. That was his first MLS goal during his league debut.
Then it was Vancouver center back Ranko Veselinovic who netted the game-winner.
The Houston Dynamo has the coaching and players to come away with a point from a team’s home pitch like the Vancouver Whitecaps – and maybe even three points.
What the Dynamo were missing in this match was spatial awareness. It showed up late in the game with the inability to close up that space in the defensive third amid ferocious attacks by Vancouver.
The Dynamo didn’t need more defenders during that time – just better decisions by the players on either side of the pitch.
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