Houston Dynamo Lose 2-1: Takeaways and Player Ratings

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Mar 29, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Matias Laba (15) defends against Houston Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis (11) during the second half at BC Place. The Vancouver Whitecaps won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo suffered their first loss of the season away to Vancouver this weekend. There were many on social media who saw this performance as disappointing, featuring a flat footed Dynamo team that was dominated by the opposition. I do not agree with this assessment; I felt the Dynamo played well and could have come away with a point if not for some bad luck.

Eastern Conference teams struggle in Vancouver. Apart from the long travel and time difference, Vancouver features the most unusual playing surface in MLS. It is nothing like the turf in Seattle and Portland and is very difficult to play on. Eastern Conference sides see this turf once every two years so never have the chance to learn how to play on it.

Apart from this, Vancouver features incredible pace. This was a great test for the new Dynamo back line. There was every chance that this match could have turned into a repeat of the match at Montreal last season where the Dynamo were nailed on counter-attack after counter-attack and conceded five goals.

Instead, the Dynamo contained Vancouver and limited them to few quality scoring opportunities. On the other end, the Dynamo generated plenty of scoring opportunities but failed to convert.

Teams in MLS seldom win on the road. The old adage is you win at home and try to get points here and there on the road. The Dynamo came close to doing just that. They were not dominated, they were not overwhelmed.

In reviewing the match, as always I have several key takeaways that I came away with:

Andrew Driver On The Right Does Not Work

Dom Kinnear continues to go to Andrew Driver as an option on the right side of the midfield despite Driver clearly being far more comfortable on the left. Driver is considerably stronger with his left foot than with his right; his tendency to cut inside when on the right is well known by defenders and easy to take away. He also has shown a higher propensity to lose possession on the right, doubling Kofi Sarkodie’s work in covering for Driver.

Mar 29, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Vancouver Whitecaps defender Steven Beitashour (33) goes down in front of Houston Dynamo midfielder Andrew Driver (20) during the second half at BC Place. The Vancouver Whitecaps won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

As a starter, Driver has not been a strong defender either. He shows a tendency to lunge at opponents, making it fairly easy to get around him. As a substitute, Driver is an option on the right side. His pace and willingness to run at opponents makes him dangerous when going against tired legs. As a starter on the right side, however, he is not a good fit.

David Horst is Houston’s Aurélien Collin 

The name Collin is a bad word in Houston, however I say this in the best way. Horst was a dominant physical presence against Vancouver. He threw elbows, used his rear and generally knocked the Whitecaps around and got under their skin, just like Collin. Like Collin, he is strong in the air. If Horst continues on this path, he will be a player that opposing teams and fans hate while Dynamo fans love.

One thing Horst showed against Vancouver, which was surprising, was the extent of his recovery pace. As a big man, Horst does not look particularly quick. However, late in the second half Horst let Kekuta Manneh get past him then ran him down from behind and got back in front of him. Manneh is fast, that Horst was able to recover against him after getting beaten was impressive.

Will Bruin Must Defend Better

The first goal scored by Vancouver came from Jordan Harvey in the aftermath of a corner. Harvey was being marked by Bruin on the corner. After the initial corner was cleared, Bruin followed Harvey at a light jog, fell well behind him then lost him in the crowd. Harvey rushed all alone onto a header from Andy O’Brien for the goal.

This is not the first time that Bruin has done a poor job tracking his man on corners this season. As I wrote previously, against New England Bruin twice lost his man. Once it resulted in a header off the post. The second time it was in the aftermath of a corner and it resulted in a quality opportunity to put a ball in the box, fortunately the cross was poor.

Click “Next” to check out the player ratings from the Dynamo loss.