"That's soccer." The words of Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura pretty well summed up Wednesday night's outcome. The 2-1 loss extended Houston's inability to win at Providence Park to nine games. One only had to watch the game and look at the stat sheet to know that Portland escaped with three points. Here are three takeaways that Houston can build on for their upcoming Sunday night match with Charlotte FC.
Playing with controlled urgency
Houston for the possibly the first time since the very beginning of the season followed one solid performance at home with a solid showing on the road. The Dynamo carried that pedal to the metal attitude from the opening whistle. They forced the tempo and had Portland backpedaling most of the night.
"They should be proud of the performance," said Nagamura following the match. "I think the result of course hurt, but if we play with that intensity and quality, we'll win more games than we lose. Again, we're playing against a quality opponent at their home. We can't forget that, but I think we take a lot of positives heading into Charlette. We go back home and try to get a result."
Midfielder Coco Carrasquilla, who nearly opened the scoring in the 21st minute banging one off the frame, echoed Nagamura's comments.
"The team always had a good face, good dynamic. We hope that this will help us to continue growing this season, that this vocation for intensity will help us win many games." Coco Carraquilla
With the debut of Hector Herrea just ten days away, Houston is beginning to play soccer like they did back in the day. They have a long way to go to match some of the teams of years gone by but continuing to play with urgency will return the glory to the Dynamo soccer landscape sooner rather than later.
Houston needs to vary their shot selection
Outshooting a team 24-11 displays that you are creating the opportunities but taking too long to get the shot away. Game in and game out, Houston likes to work inside the eighteen and at times inside the nine yard spot. It is simply too close and often one to many touches. They appear to be looking for the perfect touch or the most open player rather then taking advantage of any space they may have. By the time, they are ready to shoot, there are too many bodies inside the box and their space has dwindled. Wednesday night was another example as Houston had nine shots blocked and only six forced the keeper to make a stop.
"We didn't finish our chances and we got punished," continued Nagamura's analysis.
Darwin Quintero's goal at the hour mark is a prime example of what the Dynamo should be doing. Taking more shots from distance will eventually cause the defense to change their tactics. Once they change their tactics, you have opened up more space for those future services into the box. If you always do what you always done, you will get the same results. This is what is happening to the Houston offense. They create the opportunity but don't have the space to finish.
Dynamo defense growing
The continuity and chemistry of the defense is beginning to become a strong suit for the Houston Dynamo. Zeca and Adam Lundkvist have solidified the outside. Tim Parker, Daniel Sternes, and Teenage Hadebe are getting stronger in the middle. Although only two of the three centerbacks are playing at one time, the comfortability of the three with each gives Nagamura options. If he rests either of them, the defense doesn't lack, the shape doesn't deteriorate and the level of play remains high. Looking at these last two matches both home and away, the defense has been strong. Yes, there is a mistake here and there but overall the play is consistently getting better. This only bodes well for the rest of the season.
It shows that when we are on it, and we play with this urgency and courage," said Lundkvist summarizing the match. "We can beat any team in this league. We came out and we showed absolutely no respect. And like I said, we're on our way to becoming a different team, we're changing some things. But if we play like this, if we play with this urgency and we play with this courage, I think we're going to be a very tough team for any team in this league to play against. That's what we want to become and that's what we're looking forward to for the rest of the season."
Houston returns home to PNC Stadium on Sunday July 3rd hosting Eastern Conference foe Charlotte FC. Kick-off is slated for 7:30pm CT.