Each week, we’ll look at how a key play develops to show the inner workings of the Houston Dynamo. This week, we’ll take a look at a play barely three minutes into the season that says a lot about how the Dynamo will press their opponents high up the field to win the ball in good spots and turn that into scoring chances.
It all starts on a goal kick. Immediately, the Dynamo show pressure, matching numbers with their front three of Romell Quioto, Erick Torres and Alberth Elis against the Seattle center backs split wide and Ozzie Alonso dropping in the middle. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei initially signals for a deep kick, but finds Alonso with a short pass. Elis is still in position to pressure the ball, and the press is on as Alonso goes backwards to Frei.
The key to the press here is shrinking the field. Alonso’s pass and Elis’ angle allow Frei only two options: boot it long, or play to Chad Marshall on his left. Seattle was committed to building from the back, so the ball goes to Marshall as Torres and the Dynamo midfield three (Ricardo Clark, Alex, Eric Alexander) shift to the right and condense the field again.
Once again, Marshall’s options are limited by the Dynamo press. Torres’ angle prevents him from playing back into the middle to Alonso, meaning his options are straight ahead or further to the sideline.
He’s able to find Nicolás Lodeiro at midfield with a one-time pass, but Clark, Alexander and right back A.J. DeLaGarza were well positioned to converge and strip the ball and start the attack the other way.
When the Dynamo do recover the ball, right on the edge of the offensive third, it’s 4 vs. 4 with Alex trailing behind unmarked from midfield. Elis opts for a cross to the far post where Quioto got behind his defender and should score, but this is where the Dynamo will likely create several goals during the season.
It requires high energy and the players must be smart about picking their spots to press, especially as the game wears on, but it can create plenty of chances for the dynamic players in the front three to run at defenders in transition and create scoring opportunities.