The Houston Dynamo extended their unbeaten home streak to eight games across all competitions with their 3-0 victory over Minnesota United FC. Here are three observations from the game:
Two of Houston’s three goals against Minnesota United FC came via set pieces, as did their stoppage-time tying goal against LAFC on Tuesday. All three of them were scored by Philippe Senderos. One thing Houston has done well in the two years under Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera is making use of set-piece opportunities.
“We all are watching the World Cup. We all have seen how important set pieces are and the percentage of goals on set pieces, it’s unbelievable. It’s like 45 percent,” Cabrera said. “So, Philippe is tall. He’s very good in the air, and we believe in set pieces, and we work on set pieces a lot. So, we take it. We take it, and he’s helping us, and he’s motivated, and he’s hot. It’s good.”
Adolfo Machado returns
Panamanian defender Adolfo Machado returned to the Houston Dynamo after playing in the World Cup. Machado’s return could be a boost to a Dynamo defense that has had to deal with injuries to its defensive lines. Having Machado back allows Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera the opportunity to rest some of those who have logged heavy minutes, such as DaMarcus Beasley, who left the game at halftime for precautionary reasons.
Aside from having Machado back to help on defense, Cabrera noted that his mentality will be different.
“He doesn’t have his mindset in the World Cup, so now he’s back, totally, because before he wasn’t back,” Cabrera said. “Most of the players [that go to the World Cup] they were 50/50 why because that’s normal and I went to World Cups, and I know that you’re playing and you’re not going 100% for a tackle or something because you don’t want to get injured before the World Cup.”
Five games, 12 days
The Dynamo now shift their attention to their next five games across 12 days. Four of them being MLS regular season and one for the U.S. Open Cup. The positive is three of the five games are at home. With the four MLS games, Houston could gain serious ground in the Western Conference standings, where the Orange currently sit below the playoff line.
What can the Dynamo do to rise in the West with their upcoming string of games?
“We need to manage the games, and I think tonight we saw a big improvement from the other night [Tuesday vs LAFC] when we couldn’t do it,” Dynamo ‘keeper Joe Willis said. “Tonight we were able to manage the ball a little better, and we were able to play through the lines from midfield, which is very important, not only at home but also away from home. We need to be able to keep the ball and make the other team run.”