Rivalry games are suppose to be some of the funnest matches of the year. With the way the last three years have gone, Saturday was suppose to be just another game where we leave with three points, a job well done. It was anything but that. Houston jumped on FC Dallas early and didn’t stop. They had the perfect game plan. Push up, attack and track back in numbers. They went all out at the beginning and it paid off. By the time Dallas had a chance to breath, the game was already 4-0. Houston attacked in numbers down the flanks and swarmed to the ball in when they lost it. Fifteen minutes into the game, Dallas’ had no way back.
With Houston jumping out to such a big lead, they were able to keep their fullbacks at home eliminating any runs by Michael Barrios or Fabian Castillo. FC Dallas’ midfield couldn’t string passes together for the 75% of the match. It has been a long time since I have seen The Hoops get steamrolled like this. Let’s see if the player’s grades tell the same story.
Maximiliano Urruti (F) – When your striker is only touching the ball in your own box, on set pieces, there is a real problem. Maxi wasn’t able to do much of anything Saturday night. He wasn’t making runs in the final third putting Houston’s centerbacks in trouble. The limited times that FC Dallas did get forward in the first 30 minutes, he was usually behind the ball, not able to offer an assistance. There were times when FC Dallas would get ball back in their defending third, but weren’t able to locate Urruti for any sort of hold up play. If a game ever needed a hold up striker, it was this one. Whether due to lack of experience amongst the team, or not being one of Maxi’s strong suits, he wasn’t able to do it, at all.
Fabian Castillo (F) – The moment Houston went up 3-0, Fabian’s night was over. Fabian excels when the opposing team is pushing up field and he is able to utilize his speed to get behind the defense. With that sort of lead, Houston had no reason to hold a high line. They were able to sit their back four a little further back negating any sort of over the top ball. The few times Fabian to get flying down the flanks, he was run down, which you don’t see very often. He lacked that final touch to get free and onto goal. It didn’t help that even when Fabian did get to the touchline, there was no where to put the ball. There were no attacking runs coming out of the midfield and Urruti and himself just weren’t on the same page.
Mauro Diaz (D) – Like the rest of the midfield, Mauro had a bad night. He couldn’t get the ball over the wall on set pieces and continuously sent crosses in too close to the keeper. Houston was bodying him up and he struggled to wiggle free. The few times he was able to get clear of the defense, he lacked that final pass to send someone in on goal. In the second half, Mauro seemed to come into his own a little more. At times, he seemed to be the only player still pushing, which was nice to see. It’s encouraging to see one of your best players still willing to push even though the game was lost well over an hour ago.
Carlos Gruezo (F) – I was really disappointed in Gruezo’s performance. If there is ever a game where you want your destroyer of a midfielder to be big, it’s a game like that. It seemed like he was lost a lot of the night. Simple, one touch passing movements from Houston had him all turned around. He seemed like he was chasing shadows most of the first half. Whenever he would get the ball back, he never went forward with it. Carlos seemed like he couldn’t locate Mauro or Maxi for any type of hold up play. Instead, he would just constantly pass back, allowing Houston’s attackers to push up more.
Kellyn Acosta (F) – A lot of the same problems as last game for Kellyn. Gruezo and him haven’t figured out each other’s roles yet, allowing their to be acres of space in the middle of the pitch for Houston. With the lack of tactical awareness, it seemed as if like Acosta was constantly a step late to anyone on the ball. He was giving up free kicks because of late challenges, allowing Houston’s midfielders to get off crosses as well as allowing attacking players to make runs into the box. Offensively, Kellyn wasn’t making those late runs into the box that we have come accustom to seeing. Another disappointing performance.
Michael Barrios (F) – Like Castillo, Barriors’ effectiveness was gone 20 minutes into the match. He wasn’t able to make any runs challenging Houston’s back line. The few times he did get forward, Beasley was there to meet him and disposition him quite easily. Tracking back on defense isn’t a strong suit for Barrios, because of his size. It showed Saturday night as Houston continued to overload the left side.
Atiba Harris (F) – For as great as he was last week, he was that bad Saturday. Houston punished him all night long. The Dynamo were sending wave after wave at Atiba and it seemed like he was constantly on his back foot reacting too late to everything that came his way. He struggled sticking with runs out of the midfield and couldn’t deal with the overlapping runs of Beasley. The few times he did get forward, he ended up leaving acres of space behind him that Houston took advantage of, forcing Hedges to shift over and cover.
Matt Hedges (F) - Possibly one of the worst own goals I’ve ever seen? I felt really bad for Matt when that happened. He was trying to control a sinking ship and let the pressure get to him. The whole night, Hedges was having to cover for everyone on the back line. He was constantly having to shift left, to pick up Atiba’s man, only to allow another attacking run into the box. Watching him reminded me of the cartoon where you the character keeps sticking a finger into the dam to plug up all the holes, only to realize that the water is still coming through while he is out of fingers.
Walker Zimmerman (F) – Will Bruin punished him all night. Walker wasn’t able to body him up like he did Sapong week 1. Instead, Will’s crafty runs and passing kept Walker chasing him. It’s clear that there are going to be growing pains with Walker’s game since he isn’t as fleet of foot as Lloyd. It’s going to be interesting to see if FC Dallas continues to try to hold a high line with Walker out there. Saturday night, there countless through balls that had Walker beat.
Maynor Figueroa (F) - Was beat repeatedly 1v1. There are a lot of times that you will leave your fullbacks on an island and trust they will be able to handle their own. That did not happen Saturday night. Whether by speed, technical ability or quick passing, Maynor was beat. He wasn’t able to close down on the ball and let numerous of dangerous crosses into the box. The worst part, he had a nice assist on Houston’s third goal as well. Luckily, he did managed to leave Houston without a 2 game suspension.
Jesse Gonzalez (F) – Is it an understatement that communication was lacking between him and the back line? It was the first time that we’ve seen Jesse rattled. He seemed rushed and unsure. A few of the goals weren’t his fault, but you need your keeper to bail you out of a couple of those situations. As the backbone of the team, you can’t have your keeper shaken. He is the one that you need to lean on when everything else fails.
Subs (Victor Ulloa, Tesho Akindele, Ryan Hollingshead)
Incomplete - Didn’t have an affect on the match since they were down 5-0.
Game two is now in the books and let’s not talk about it ever again. Other than the hit to the ego, FC Dallas left Houston alright. There weren’t any suspensions, which seemed like a certainty 30 minutes in and Castillo seemed to be fine after his injury scare. Let’s all take a deep breath and realize the next match is right around the corner. Here’s to getting back on track at home in front of crazy crowd Saturday night.