The Houston Dynamo FC returned home to a sparse crowd (13,081) at PNC Stadium on Saturday night however those in attendance were treated to match like they expected. Houston not only scored twice, posted a clean sheet but played the full 90 plus minutes. Here are three takeaways from that match.
The coaching staff put together a game plan having Darwin Quintero, Sebastian Ferreira and rookie Thor Ulfarrson up top. Both Ulfarrson and Quintero found the back of the net. A lot of that due to the hard work of midfielder Memo Rodriguez who may have played one of his best games of the season. Rodriguez delivered three services into the box that should become three goals instead of just one. This game proved when they execute for the full 90 plus this team is as dangerous as any in Major League Soccer.
“It was a commanding victory," said a happy Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura following the win. "Overall, a good performance for both halves. The first half, we were more dangerous in the final third. Second half, we managed the game a little bit more,
but I’m pleased with the performance overall—created a lot of chances could have scored a couple of more but very pleased with the way the team responded after last week’s game.”
Forwards find the net
Rookie Thor Ulfarrson and veteran Darwin Quintero found the back of the net while Sebastian Ferreira had one called back on a VAR review. The no goal by Ferreira was a great example of execution. Quintero laid a perfectly weighted ball onto the foot of Sebas and he did the rest. Unlucky to have the VAR rule against him. For Quintero, it was goal number six on the season. For Ulfarrson, it was his first home goal and the second of his career. Between Quintero and Ulfarrson, they combined for eight of the team's 11 shots. In addition, the three forwards combined for all five shots on frame. Anytime this occurs, good things happen.
Patience, passing and possession
The three P's of soccer proved the difference in Saturday night's win at PNC Stadium. The 3 P's demonstrate the chemistry of the players on the pitch. It displays their ability to control tempo, the run of play and ultimately the scoreboard nine out of ten times. Memo Rodriguez playing the wing connected on 90% of his passes on this night including two early services in the opening 25 minutes that should have resulted in goals. Midfielder Matias Vera connected on 91% of his passes. Centerback Teenage Hadebe found the foot of a teammate 88% of the time and forward Darwin Quintero was at 75%. When passing is this good, its because of patience and leads to possession which breeds succes.
Houston has three matches in seven days and will need all three of these moments to grow. It will take veterans and rookies alike as the Chicago game demonstrated for Houston to be a force. Late match insertions included Beto Avila and Griffin Dorsey when the match was on the line. Nagamura is not afraid to put younger players on the pitch.
“The guys were very solid, the younger guys, the senior guys, I think we have a very good mix of players," concluded Nagamura. "With the team that we put together today especially, in the first half I think they have a good chemistry. I think that showed on the field. I think you know me by now, that if younger player is doing well and they are performing in training and they can help the team, I am going to put them
to play. So, if doesn’t matter if they are 17, 16, 18 or 35, 36 they will play as long as in my opinion they will help the team win the game when it comes to game time.”
Houston (6W - 7L -3D) heads to Portland for a mid-week match to end the month of June. The Western Conference Dynamo jumped to eighth place in the table two points clear of Portland and two points shy of the Seattle Sounders who currently hold down the final playoff berth. Kick-off for Wednesday night's match from Providence Park is set for 9:30pm CT.