Houston Tactical Analysis

Tactical Match Analysis: Houston Dynamo

Head Coach: Dominic Kinnear

Formation: 4-4-2
Last 5 results
Win 1-0 vs D.C. United (August 3)
Loss 2-0 at Seattle Sounders (August 10)
Win 2-0 vs Philadelphia Union (August 15)
Loss 3-0 at Columbus Crew (August 23)
Win 3-1 at Sporting Kansas City (August 29)

Offensive organization
The Houston Dynamo line up in a 4-4-2 formation when they have the ball. Most of its attacks consists of finding one of the two strikers in space behind its opponent’s backline. When Houston is in possession, the striker closest to the ball will make a run in the space between its opponent’s center back and full back.

In Houston’s build-up play from the back, the center backs will play wide from each other. When one center back has the ball, it usually looks wide to either a full back or a wide midfielder. If there is no option, they will play directly over the top for the striker making a run.

When they do get out of their half, almost all their attacks are directed on the wings for an eventual cross. Houston scores most of their goals from crosses or a header off a set-piece like a free kick or corner kick.

Montreal will also have to limit giving away free kicks and corner kicks, as Brad Davis’ kicks tend to create problems for opposing back lines. Putting Houston players under high pressure will force them to turnover balls. Sporting Kansas City was successful when they did that to the Dynamo last week.

Offensive transition
In transition offensively, Houston employs standard tactics. When it wins the ball, it will secure it out of pressure first, then look long and wide. The transition lacks some pace, but the team did score off an offensive transition against the Philadelphia Union on August 15.

Defensive organization
When defending, the Dynamo likes to press high. Its two strikers are joined by one of the wide midfielders to form a triangle with one man pressing and two covering behind. They only start to apply pressure when the opposing center backs make a pass out to a central midfielder or out wide.

If the opponent’s break down Houston’s high press, the Dynamo midfielders will drop behind the ball in a diamond formation. By being in a diamond formation, Houston ensures there is adequate cover and balance in their defensive zonal block.

There is a way to take advantage of Houston’s defensive setup. The Dynamo’s block is often not very compact, so opposing teams that found a way to play balls on the ground in between Houston lines, were successful in creating chances. Playing long balls against the Dynamo is risky as Houston is good at winning balls in the air.

Defensive transition
The team presses the ball aggressively no matter where it is on the pitch. Upon losing the ball, a Dynamo player is there applying pressure. As a result, Houston recovers the ball quite often soon after losing it. Houston’s pressure backfires sometimes if its opponent finds a way out, leaving Houston exposed in the back.