The Houston Dynamo dropped a 2-1 home decision to Austin FC (ATX). Although the loss was the first in six home matches this season, it was the way in which they lost that is cause for concern. Here are three red flags that could become major concerns if not addressed right away.
Lackluster Beginnings: With few exceptions this has been an ongoing problem for the most for the Dynamo franchise for the better part of seven seasons. The energy level leaves a lot to be desired at the opening whistle. On Saturday, Austin FC came out firing on all cylinders to include a raucous fanbase that traveled the 163 miles between stadiums. Houston looked bedazzled as Austin peppered Dynamo keeper Steve Clark with no less than three point blank shots from nine yards out.
“It’s a commitment to play for 90-plus minutes. I think we have to understand that we are a team that cannot afford to turn off, just because the way that we want to play and the way that this league is very competitive. There are no easy games, every team can beat every team. So, we as a group, we have to make sure we are being accountable to each other and make sure that we minimize those moments because teams will capitalize on those moments. This afternoon, we had a few plays that we turned off and we paid the price.”
The words of Dynamo FC head coach Paulo Nagamura rang ever so true as he began the post game press conference. The team does not put together a full 90 plus which leads to point number two.
No identity: This team is still trying to determine who they are because at the moment they are a team that does not play well with lead and neither are they a come from behind team. On Saturday after weathering the ATX barrage in the opening five minutes, they scored off a quick counter to take the early lead. As has been the case more often than not, they could not hold the lead. The Dynamo allowed Austin back into the match surrendering a goal in the 39th minute. To be fair, the goal was nothing short of perfect execution.
With the lead, Houston seems content to sit back and let the opposition have its cracks while they look for the perfect counter that almost never comes. Against ATX, Corey Baird subbed on in the 65th minute and immediately lost his man (Sebastian Driussi) who slotted home the game winner in the 66th minute.
"I don't know if necessarily we did, there are moments in games where there are small mental lapses, tiredness, fatigue, poor positioning, those kinds of things. When I get to finally look at those goals, I'll probably have more insight."
That checklist of mental lapses, tiredness, fatigue etc by Dynamo captain and centerback Tim Parker says it all. The team does not know who they are and their play indicates a long season if they don't figure it out quick.
Your record is who you are: The Houston Dynamo FC is 3-3-3 with 12 points out of nine matches. Conversely, Austin with its win is now 6-2-1 with 20 points and sits atop the Western Conference. Houston has a goal differential of plus one after the loss while ATX has a plus 14. Houston sits seventh in the standings at the moment.
Looking back at 2021, the seasons are parallel universes as Houston had 4 of its six wins after nine matches. and won just two the rest of the way finishing with a goal differential of minus 18.
Sebastian Ferriara, the biggest signing in team history, with his fourth goal in as many games has begun to showcase who he can be but without others stepping up it will be for naught. Houston has great young talent but right now they are not a team.
Final whistle: Houston is a team with talent but until they learn to play like a talented team there will ne lackluster beginnings, no identity and a record cannot hide the truth. Saturday's loss was just the latest story of how far the Houston Dynamo still have to go to get back to relevance.