For players that are charged with shutting down the opposing team, defenders do love to get into the attack even if they are not always successful.
As the Houston Dynamo's style of play has evolved this season one of the areas they’ve wanted increased production is from those wide defenders. Saturday, they saw two of their defenders find their payoff as fullbacks DaMarcus Beasley and Sheanon Williams helped produce the club’s two goals against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“It gives you an extra dimension when you get your fullbacks joining in,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “Of course it was very prevalent and became very obvious [Saturday]. It’s always nice when stuff you work on, on the training ground comes to fruition in matches.”
“Yeah, I used to play forward so I used to like get in the box,” Williams said. “Now I don’t venture so far forward, but it’s nice to be able to help out in the attack and probably why in the end I ended up playing right back.”
Until Saturday Houston’s fullbacks had contributed just one assist and zero goals this season. It is a staggering stat, considering the players they have and the encouragement from Coyle to take their chances going forward.
“I think what we’re trying to show this year is that we want everybody, when they can, getting forward,” Coyle said. I’m also encouraging players to get forward at the right time.”
Williams is new to Houston and has not had a chance to make a prolonged impact on the attack. Saturday’s dime was Williams’ 20th assist of his career, his high-water mark came when he had eight in 2013 with the Philadelphia Union. That’s something that Houston can certainly use more of this season.
“It’s important when we’re trying to keep the ball,” Williams continued. “It’s important for me and DaMarcus, or whoever’s playing out left, to get forward and try and help the attack. It really makes for a good outlet. It’s something that DaMarcus is really good at and I’m comfortable with.”
Beasley has seemingly done everything but contribute on the stat sheet. The USMNT legend has received praise for his ability to push into the attack but his runs forward have usually ended in a foul or chance that went by the wayside. Saturday’s goal was his first in MLS since the 2003 MLS Cup final and his first in a Dynamo uniform.
“We’ve got to keep encouraging people to be getting forward,” Coyle said. “We want to be winning games and be pleasing to the eye and creating goal scoring chances and the best way to do that is committing players but understanding we’ve got to shut the back door at the same time.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.