In spite of the fact I’m going to skip a preview for tonight’s CONCACAF Champions Cup (CCC) quarterfinal between CD Saprissa and FC Atlante, credit last night’s quarterfinal between CSD Municipal and the Houston Dynamo for compelling me to watch it…probably in the wee hours of tomorrow.
Getting back to the game, I posted a loosey-goosey perspective on last night’s goalless draw, but wanted to follow up with some talking point here. To reiterate just a little, it seems Houston brought a little luck with them to Guatemala; the Municipal really took it to them and really should have put away at least one. A roll-out of the reasons they didn’t, plus a lot more, comes below.
– To begin, my general ignorance of their team leaves me feeling I’m doing to the Guatemalans. They played a good game from front-to-back and I wish I could credit the players by name. This is something I generally hate about watching teams with whom I’m unfamiliar (and why I’m becoming so MLS-monogamous). That said, Mario Rodriguez buzzed like a mad bee, causing the Dynamo headaches all night; I remember hearing Israel Silva’s name plenty, as well as Gonzalo Romero. With Freddy Garcia, who didn’t stand out as much for me, they led the Municipal attack better than ably.
– Though it bears noting that it was Romero who conspired to miss a goal that a blind, one-legged man could have put away.
– This also occasioned the best commentating moment of the match. FSC commentator Christopher Sullivan exclaimed “impossiblé” on watching the replays and, for reasons beyond knowing, decided to mention this means “impossible.” FSC’s play-by-play guy, Max Bretos, clearly unable to resist, chimed in with “Is that what it means?” A cheap-shot to be sure, but what can you do when Sullivan leads with that big chin?
– Yeah, I like the broadcast team. I know that’s a lonely view, but they make me laugh. OK, back to the game.
– Memo to future Dynamo opponents: you want to score on the Dynamo? Watch the video from this game and the Gamba Osaka pounding; I’d wager dollars to donuts, in fact, Municipal’s staff watched the latter. Because they push their defensive line so high, you can get speedy-shit players behind the Dynamo’s defense by playing through-balls from near the center-stripe. This was Municipal’s bread-and-butter through the first half. As Sullivan pointed out, the gap between Ricardo Clark and Richard Mulrooney and the Dynamo back four allowed space for Municipal’s players to both apply defensive pressure and avenues for these passes – some of which were nearly fatal.
– To give the Dynamo defense due credit, they hung tough against the onslaught. Pat Onstad and Craig Waibel did more than the rest, but the relative invisibility of Eddie Robinson – and, to be fair, Bobby Boswell – tells me they battled well enough collectively. Their worst moment, for my money, came with the run of consecutive corners Municipal had in the second half: they couldn’t clear.
– The worst general moment for Houston – or, conversely, the best for Municipal – came over a 20+ minute spell in the second half. Houston had lost their legs by then and seemed only able to clear their area.
OK, this is threatening to go too long, so I’ll try to tighten up comments on specific attacking players.
– Corey Ashe: The story for me last night: he’s a big drop-off from Brad Davis; it’s simple as that. He really cannot cross the ball. Either work on that, or figure a way to use his speed. Ashe’s best contributions came late when he started covering defensively for Barrett, who is starting to struggle against faster players. He’s still good, especiallly going forward, but times are a-changin’.
– The essential irrelevance of the Dynamo’s left rendered their right – through Waibel and Mulrooney – their best attacking option. They did well enough, but Municipal defended pretty well.
– Who was the Dynamo danger-man? For my money, Chris Wondolowski, who nearly powered home one header against the run of play. He may yet show he’s ready. Brian Ching was out there, but I’m thinking the Guatemalans did their homework.
– I think they knew about Dwayne DeRosario as well.
– The main thing that killed Houston, though, was how far deep their forwards had to play. Credit Municipal for that, but I’m sure having to run over 2/3 of the field just to get within range of Municipal’s goal took its toll on a Dynamo team still early in their season.
OK, that’s enough. The main point I want to get across with all this is that the Dynamo better keep frosty for the return leg. I understand all too well how Municipal won those 25 titles. This is a good team, well capable of stealing the series if Houston lets them.
Feel free to add more below….or to tell me I’m wrong…just do it nicely.