Houston Dynamo: Errant passing the key problem

The Houston Dynamo were cut to shreds by Sporting KC this weekend. Their key issue was poor passing accuracy, which undermined attacking moves and piled pressure on the defence.

Last weekend, the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City played a rough, yellow-card-filled 90-minutes. Dynamo left town with a six-game MLS winless streak against the steadily improving Kansas City side, and that poor run of form only continued here.

In MLS, the Dynamo last beat Sporting KC in 2017. But on this occasion, they never even came close to victory. By the 26th minute, the home team were 2-0 up and in complete control and they never looked back.

Roger Espinoza sent a lazy left-footed lob into the back of the net with Dynamo goalkeeper Marko Maric out of position for SKC’s second goal. This came after Alan Pulido’s opening goal in the 16th minute, the ball skimming across the ground and glancing off the far post, just inches from a diving Maric’s fingertips.

The game got so rough that by the 25th minute, both Houston center-backs — Mayor Figueroa and Alijaz Struna — drew yellow cards. By the 35th minute, the Dynamo had gathered two more yellow cards — defender Adam Lyndkvist and midfielder Matias Vera. In the Vera incident, Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez also picked up a card. By the end of play, both teams had seven yellow cards apiece.

In reality, fouling was all that the Dynamo could do to keep tabs with a blistering Sporting KC. They were utterly outplayed, and once Gadi Kinda and Khiry Shelton had their say on proceedings in the second half, this has turned into a rout.

Both the Kinda and Shelton strikes came after a series of Dynamo passes to nowhere, resulting in unforced dispossessions. The midfield errors increased in frequency beginning early in the second half and their wayward passing was horribly frequent. Their passing accuracy was only 76% across the entire 90 minutes, 7% below Sporting KC’s.

Even more concerning, however, was that they completed only 61% of their passes in the attacking half, a massive 16% less than their hosts. Where Sporting KC could ping the ball from teammate to teammate, rarely conceding the possession and working their way into attacking situations, Houston could only serve to turnover possession and were consistently under pressure as a result.

One slight positive was the debut of new signing Darwin Quintero. He is an attacker who can smooth out the Houston Dynamo’s offensive play. He had a passing accuracy north of 70% and provided some neat combinations to help build attacks. But while Quintero wasn’t the lowest-rated Dynamo player on the pitch, he didn’t push his teammates forward to get close to a result — although, he was not exactly offered much help.

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The Houston Dynamo, then, remain mired in error-prone play when advancing the ball. And until they can play accurate, high-tempo, progressive combinations, these 4-0 thumpings will only continue.

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