Houston Dynamo: Seeking wins through consistency in all formations

Houston Dynamo. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Dynamo. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Houston Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos drew the line on team losses

Houston Dynamo lost to 31 to Nashville SC at home on Oct. 14. That’s when head coach Tab Ramos threw down the gauntlet. The playoff move must start now with the team playing formations crisply.

Houston Dynamo had favored a 4-3-3 formation during a 5-4-4 (W-L-D) run. Then Ramos abandoned focusing on that formation. For the first experiment, Dynamo carried out a 2-0 win over FC Dallas. The Dallas win combined the best games of the season for both forward Darwin Quintero and goalkeeper Marko Maric, per scouting reports.

The win came despite forward Mauro Manotas going out with a red card at the end of the first half. The two Dynamo goals came in the first half with a Quintero goal, assisted by forward Ariel Lassiter, and a second-half penalty shot by midfielder Darwin Ceren.

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That was the team’s first de-emphasis of their 4-3-3 formation. The Dynamo fortunes went far south after that experiment. But against Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, the team lost. Houston scored only one goal in those two games. Nashville scored three of the four goals that eat the Dynamo.

The knee-jerk decision would be to go back to the 4-3-3 that got them their previous wins. Ramos has elected not to do that.

Even with the disappointing two-game losing streak, the team was only two points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. Ramos insists his players find consistency – success – working through formations other than just the 4-3-3.

Instead, against Nashville, he noted that the team failed to disrupt their opponent in the midfield. And the players lost possession there too frequently. That puts the team in a position to quickly exit the playoffs should they make it. Also, they might not make the post-season at all.

That was where Houston lost the game. They nearly doubled up Nashville in possession, 63.3%-36.7%. Passing accuracy was 85%-73%. Instead of finding consistency for Houston Dynamo, Nashville SC took heart. It was a game that introduced midfielder Hany Mukhtar to MLS supporters.

Nashville’s first Designated Player is the first to win Player of the Week. It happened because of the 3-0 win over Houston, with Mukhtar scoring two of those goals. North American Soccer Reporters explained that while media voting counts for 75% of the POTW balloting, over 35% of fans wanted the midfielder to get this honor in Week 18. And that percentage put him over the top.

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Houston Dynamo players didn’t win that race. But they want to win the marathon into the MLS post-season. To get that win, they’ll have to get the consistency their head coach wants. And the players will have to demonstrate that consistency regardless of the formation in which they’re working.