This is the Houston Dynamo we’ve been waiting to see.
The two-time MLS champions got off to a terrible start to the season but Houston is hitting its stride now, as evidenced by its 4-1-1 stretch in its past six MLS matches. The latest victory came against a short-handed TFC squad that is having some struggles after its own good run of form. National team committments have made gaining consistency a difficult task but Toronto’s depth hasn’t quite been as impressive as some might have thought it would be.
SBI correspondents Alex Swaim and Duane Rollins took in the action on Sunday and share their thoughts on Houston’s victory against Toronto FC with us.
Ching and DeRosario form the perfect partnership
By ALEX SWAIM
At the beginning of the season Dwayne DeRosario was asked about filling in at forward during the season. While he said it had been discussed, he made clear his desire to play in the attacking midfield role and placed his confidence in the talent at the position already on the roster.
Until he played forward against Toronto FC, that is.
I don’t think it matters what position DeRosario prefers after all the talent already on the roster has proved inadequate. Until further notice, he’s a forward.
The team of DeRosario and Brian Ching thrashed an undermanned Canadian side to the tune of 3 goals which brought the team to the top spot in the anemic west.
That’s a pretty good game for the duo.
Even more importantly it allows Stuart Holden to play in his natural attacking midfield position, which immediately makes the attack more resilient. With Corey Ashe starting to be the dangerous winger Dominic Kinnear though he could be in place of Brad Davis and Brian Mullan or rookie-of-the-year Geoff Cameron both being excellent on the right, I don’t see how Kinnear starts another combination as his first choice squad this season.
DeRosario adds a new dimension to the Dynamo attack that has been missing since MLS cup of last year. I speak of course about the departure of Joseph Ngwenya to Austria. After losing a player who’s speed at the position prevented teams from playing multiple defenders on Ching, the Dynamo attack had slowed to a near halt. DeRosario adds both the speed (though most of the Dynamo’s 6 offsides calls were against him) and the respect of defenders that lets Ching play to his best.
With DeRosario at forward, the Dynamo have a dangerous and dynamic attack. The midfield has been dominant the whole season, but now that the Dynamo have an added level of threat those performances might translate to three points where previously they were earning one.
Sadly, however, the team might not have a chance to play a full roster for some time yet. The keys to that formation are DeRosario – for whom there is no replacement at forward – Ching, and Holden, whom all look like they will miss time playing in international fixtures. It’ll be up to Kinnear to find the replacements from within – or perhaps even outside – the roster to keep the team competitive. That will start Thursday night when the Dynamo (sans DeRosario, Ching, and Onstad) will face a league-leading New England (without Shalrie Joseph and Khano Smith) who are known to bunker down in bad situations.
Regardless of that result, the Dynamo look like a different team from the beginning of the year.
Struggling TFC leaves fans disappointed
By DUANE ROLLINS
From the beginning, it didn’t seem right. Toronto’s game with Houston had been moved from its Saturday night slot to an inconvenient Sunday evening. Where typically a gathering of 100s would watch a TFC road game at one of the supporters groups’ affiliated pubs, the school night scheduling put a damper on those plans.
It being summer in the city—and a sweltering 40C to boot—the Toronto fandom was scattered. Some chose to watch in an air-conditioned pub, others stayed at home to take in the poorly produced broadcast, perhaps using the time to reintroduce themselves to their spouse and children.
For others, such as myself, the sacrilegious use of a DVR was required—the rescheduling of the game put it straight up against a concert involving the coolest Canadian to ever walk the planet, Leonard Cohen.
Curses to whatever triviality forced this game off a Saturday night, where it belonged. I know it’s wrong to not watch TFC live, but the man is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he is 73. I have full confidence I’ll be at BMO Field in five days time. I’m not so sure I’ll ever have a chance to hear Bird on a Wire performed live again.
Twelve hours after the concert I sit alone in my living room. I’ve avoided all media—the radio is off, the morning paper remains at the door. If someone has sent me an important e-mail, it will have to wait. Learning of the result cannot be risked. If you can’t see it live, you at least had better see it simulated live.
But, every sports fan understands that it just isn’t the same. The fast forward button sits mocking you. Watching sports, especially the world’s game, is a communal activity. When you take away that aspect it isn’t the same. Irrationally, you believe that without the power of the group that the team’s play will suffer. Alone you are just a fan; together you are a force.
But, the damage has been done. And, the team’s play has convinced me that I have made the wrong choice.
The Reds look disorganized. They are playing for the tie and they are doing a poor job of it. "Play positively," you scream out. "Believe that a win is possible." But, it’s useless. All your yelling accomplishes is to send the cats scurrying under the couch in fear. The damage has been done. The game is over. It has been for several hours.
The hopelessness builds until one of Toronto’s own betrayed us. It was about the time Mr. Cohen broke into the opening line of hallelujah, you think as you sink into the couch. It’s depressing and it’s tempting to just give up and fast forward to the inevitable conclusion. But as much as you want to wallow, you can’t. You know that the community that is TFC will meet again soon and all of this will be forgotten.
And even though it all went wrong (against Houston) I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.