The Houston Dynamo traveled to Orlando for a Saturday night match looking to mve up the table with a rare road win. Instead Orlando City which had not beaten Houston in two their last two meetings in Florida found a 2-1 win. The loss dropped Houston another rank down in the NWSL table pending the outcome of Sunday's upcoming matches. What can we learn about this team from Saturday night?
The old cliche "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got" played out in Florida against the Orlando City. Houston came out flat with no energy and Orlando took a lead they never relinquished. The Lions grabbed the lead just before the half hour mark on an easy goal from Ercan Kara. Orlando scored multiple goals for the first time since a 2-2 draw with Austin FC.
Next is as simple as the first. When you don't play well, the calls don't go in your favor. Late in the match when it appeared Thor Ulfarsson was taken down in the box and a penalty assessed, the call went just the opposite. The Dynamo rookie forward was called for simulation something which many college and professional players due but are seldom penalized for. Simulation has become a part of the game but on this nght it worked against Houston.
Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura when asked about Ulfarsson's booking was more forthcoming then most would be saying "He deserved the yellow card, he could have taken the shot. We don't encourage players to cheat. I am going to have a talk with him, it was a bad decision on his part and hopefully he can learn from it. We don't encourage those kinds of things from our team."
The other play was a no goal call as the final seconds ticket away. Houston appeared to have found the equalizer only to learn that Darwin Quintero had been ruled offside and influenced the run of play.
Execution continues to be an issue for the Houston Dynamo. Saturday night's game was another illustration of El Naranja's inability to execute from the opening whistle. Houston came out by their own account to playing poorly and needed a halftime tongue lashing to find a spark. Nagamura did not mince words about the team's first half performance saying "Very poor with the ball in the first half. We let Orlando take control of the game, mostly because coming out of the back our play was poor. My message to the team was exactly what I just said: we need to play with more urgency. We need to be the team that throws the first punch, not waited to be punched. That was the message, we need to play with more purpose and have urgency."
Finally, one of Houston's better players was missing from the game entirely. Fafa Picault about whom it was rumored earlier in the week that he was leaving the team did not appear in the starting XI nor on the bench.
If the Dynamo don't figure it out soon, the arrival of Hector Herrera won't mean much.