The Houston Dynamo are in another slump, with a string of losses beginning with their exit from the League’s Cup at the end of July and three more MLS losses since. After letting three road points slip away in New York last Thursday, they traveled to Philadelphia to test their road efforts again.
Head coach Wilmer Cabrera, no stranger to surprises with his starting XI, brought along Houston’s three new players. Chilean defender José Bizama, has been working through visa issues for a month, while Christian Ramirez and Niko Hansen were signed less than a week ahead of the Union match. All three made the roster for Thursday night’s match – Bizama and Ramirez started, while Hansen was on the bench. The new players may not have been fully prepared for league play, as Ramirez and Bizama each had to be subbed out due to cramping between the 70th and 85th minutes.
Houston veteran DaMarcus Beasley had been subbed out even earlier, which left Houston with no options when Juan David Cabezas exited the match after being fouled hard, and the Dynamo finished the match with ten men. In New York, the team was down a man after a red card, so running shorthanded is starting to become a bad habit for Houston.
The second familiar tune of the evening was heading into the half tied at a point. While the halftime result was identical to the NYC match, the Dynamo did less with the possibilities further down the East Coast in Philly. Houston put forth lots of effort and had some great combinations, but the constant turnover with subs and injuries in the last fifteen minutes was more than they could overcome. Houston fell to the Philadelphia Union 2-1 after an Elliot header in the 78th minute.
I attempt to belay cognitive bias when evaluating player’s efforts, and fight against the halo effect consciously. For those that aren’t psychology nerds like me, the halo effect as it applies to soccer is the tendency to judge a player’s overall performance based on a single match or play. That being said, I will abandon all of this academic speech to simply say that Houston keeper Joe Willis really needs to get his mojo back.
Every keeper gets scored on, and every one makes mistakes. I’ve maintained a positive view of Willis through some of the recent losses and have refused to allow the halo effect to let a couple of bad matches color my entire view of his career. Whatever has happened to his game, I’m ready for him to recover. Recent shots getting past Willis are slow and sloppy – not impressive shots that would be forgivable to miss.
Overall the Dynamo continue to show moments of brilliance offensively and defensively but have been unable to get the entire team functioning on all cylinders for more than a half. Big changes have happened to the roster over the last week, and Wilmer Cabrera has parted ways with the club in the time I’ve been working on this article! Undoubtedly, there will be lots of big things to discuss after the Dynamo come home to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
Featured image: @HoustonDynamo
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