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La Naranja break the streak
Friday, 04 June 2010
For the second time in as many games, the Dynamo succumbed to defeat in the waning moments of extra time. Red Bulls superstar forward Juan Pablo Angel ripped out Dynamo fansí hearts with a 30-yard free kick goal sending the Dynamo to consecutive losses for the first time this season.

In all honesty, the result was probably fair based on New York severely outplaying the Men in Orange in the first half and Brian Chingís game-tying goal looking to be offside. That doesnít mean the result hurts any less.

The Orangeís poor start came when its midfield and defense were constantly overrun with intelligent runs from New York forwards as well as simple, direct balls from their midfield.

Pat Onstad

In the 15th minute, Red Bulls made the breakthrough. After deflecting the initial free kick, the Houston defenders were helpless when a second ball found Siniöa Ubiparipovic completely unmarked no more than 10 yards from goal. Ubiparipovic, played onside by Richard Mulrooney - who had been on the goal line defending the initial free kick - had the simplest of tasks in beating Pat Onstad.

At 1-0, New York continued to dominate the half.

The Dynamoís only reasonable opportunity - a Cam Weaver header that was hit straight at Red Bull goalie Bouna Coundoul Ė couldnít compete with the Red Bulls, who could have been up by two or three goals at half time. One of the only things keeping the away team in the game before halftime was a spectacular Onstad save after Angel was through one-on-one.

Not again!
The Houston side started the second half with some improvements. Unfortunately, the second half against New York mirrored the second half against Philadelphia in almost every way. After 20 minutes of pressure, Chingís goal would tie up the match. The Hawaiian settled a cross from Bobby Boswell with his chest and beat Coundoul from point blank range. Replays showed the Dynamo forward as offside, yet the linemanís flag didnít go up. After the goal, the Dynamo let their foot off the gas, allowing NY back into the game. New York controlled the midfield again as the second half wore on and looked more likely to score the gameís third goal. A Dominic Oduro sub-in gave La Naranja a spectacular chance to score in the 89th minute, but Angelís free kick goal in the 94th minute decided the game.

Road games wonít get any easier for the Men in Orange. The team will fly cross-country to face the leagueís best team, and Western Conference leaders, LA Galaxy. Despite being without the services of Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and a certain tattooed Englishman, the Galaxy continues to grind out results without skipping a beat. The LA-based team beat out the Eastern Conference leaders, Columbus Crew last week, handing the Crew their first loss of the season in the process.

Galaxy player, Danny Cruz

After two months of play, the Galaxy has yet to lose a game winning nine of their 11 games. This team has proven that it doesnít need its superstars to win.

Houston, on the other hand, seems to be completely lost mentally. This team still has the talent to succeed, but has yet to bring the requisite intensity, commitment and emotion for the full 90, game in and game out. Until it does, this team is nothing more than average.

They will get it figured out. With veteran leadership and the coaching staff, this team is too good not to. The question is, ďWhen?Ē July? October? Will new players be needed? I donít think they will get it figured out this weekend. LA is too good, the wear and tear of the travel is too strong, and the Dynamo psyche is too weak. One streak was broken Wednesday night, and Iím afraid weíre about to see a new streak start.

Prediction:
Galaxy 2, Dynamo 0

Season Prediction Record: 6-6

 
Inconsistency plagues the Men in Orange
Wednesday, 02 June 2010
First road win

In a game that the Dynamo would have expected to win, Houston managed to put forth yet another uninspiring performance in its 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

The game marked a number of firsts for the expansion Union. It was their first win on the road, their first points on the road, and the first time the team had even held a lead on the road.

As embarrassing as the game was for La Naranja, it has been a familiar occurrence. The loss marks the fifth time this season where a strong, winning performance was followed with an uninspired, losing performance.

Philly came out with more passion and intent. The Union completely stifled any Dynamo opportunity, while rarely troubling keeper Pat Onstad in the opening moments of the game.

In truth, the game was very unexciting until late in the first half. After running down a long ball down the left side of the Houston defense, Shea Salinas shrugged off a Bobby Boswell shoulder charge, made his way down the endline and beat Pat Onstad from an extremely tight angle. The Union went into halftime with a deserved lead.

Honoring Ching

A legend honored
The second half began with a standing ovation from the Dynamo faithful as Brian Ching made his way into the game.

The game was Chingís first after being left off the World Cup roster and he immediately gave his supporters something to cheer about. His inclusion seemed to spark the team and in the 52nd minute, their second half pressure was rewarded. A free kick from midfielder Brad Davis found Chingís head and he buried the ball into the back of the net tying the game.

But Houston wasnít finished yet.

They relentlessly pressured the Union backline, barely giving the expansion team any chances in their attacking half. Seven minutes later, Brad Davis would once again be the provider with defender Eddie Robinson providing the header. At 2-1, the Dynamo seemed to be poised to turn this game into a rout.

And then the wheels fell off.

After 20 minutes of focused, determined play, the Orange reverted to its first half play of sloppy, lackadaisical football. Combined with the inclusion of two crucial subs, the Union would take advantage of the Dynamoís lack of focus.

The equalizer came in the 69th minute through team-leading scorer Sebastian Le Toux. More sloppy defending allowed rookie Danny Mwanga to tap in a goal from 4 yards out leaving the only sounds to be heard in Robertson Stadium to be heard from the Philadelphia Union bench.

Why the loss?
Games arenít being lost because of a lack of talent. They are being lost because of a lack of focus, intensity, and desire. The Dynamo has proven time and time again that they are capable of being one of the better teams in the league when the players play with the appropriate level of concentration and commitment.

Additionally, losses would be easier to take if the Dynamo was a young, inexperienced team. This veteran team with proven leadership repeatedly falls into the same trap. They allow themselves to play every other game without the requisite intensity and focus. The Philadelphia game is essentially a microcosm of the season. Twenty minutes of solid play got them they lead in the second half, then the Dynamo lost their focus and intensity seemingly thinking the job was done. This lack of discipline is completely out of character for this team. If fans can take any solace, itís that their frustrations are nothing when compared to the frustrations of the players and coaches.

Coming up
The Dynamo have two tough away games before the World Cup break. Tonight's match against NY Red Bulls followed by a match against current MLS leaders LA Galaxy on Saturday. For a team in desperate need of two solid performances in a row, these games come at an inopportune time.

Prediction
Last week, I fought the streak and paid the price. Every bit of logic indicated that the Dynamo should at least get a draw out of the game but the streak determined otherwise. Seriously, at this point, itís getting ridiculous. Ten games. Ten freaking games of alternating wins and losses. The streak indicates that the Dynamo will win Wednesday against the Red Bulls. Iíve already fought the streak and lost but consider me a slow learner.

Prediction:
Red Bulls 0, Dynamo 0

Season Prediction Record: 6-5

 
Union to make first Houston appearance
Friday, 28 May 2010

Texian Army TV - 2010 - Ep 3 - Dominating DC.

Can the Dynamo put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season? Consistency has been a struggle but there will be no better opportunity than now to start a winning streak.

The Philadelphia Union comes to Houston with a mere four points from its first seven games. Considering the side is in its inaugural season that comes as no surprise. The Union is a team that, on paper, has the talent to compete in a relatively weak Eastern Conference.

Philly's lineup
For fans, the most recognizable name on the roster might be former Dynamo forward Alejandro Moreno. The Venezuelan was traded to Columbus in the deal that brought Joseph Ngwenya to Houston in 2007 and selected by the Union in the expansion draft this past offseason.

Never a prolific goal-scorer, Moreno relies on his hold-up play to involve other teammates or draw fouls. The goal-scoring duties fall to the other starting forward, Sebastian Le Toux. Le Toux started the season well, scoring four of the Unionís seven goals. The two forwards form a fairly potent front line, one that has the potential to cause problems.

In addition, Philadelphia has a bit of offensive talent in midfield that could be troublesome for the Men in Orange. While most could point to former DC United winger Fred as the talent in the corps, 18-year-old Roger Torres has been very impressive at times. The youngster is on loan from Colombian side America de Cali and has been a starter in every Union game in spite of his age. He has the technical ability to pry open a defense with precision. While he is relatively inexperienced when compared to La Naranjaís midfield, Houston must not give him the space and time to pick out a passóhe has the talent to make them pay.

Unionís defense has been the Achillesí heel thus far this season. Despite the acquisitions of fringe US National Teamers Danny Califf and Michael Orozco, the Union has allowed an average of more than two goals per game. Some of that may be due to the fact that the defense needs time to gel Ė but it would also be helpful if the Union could keep 11 men on the field for 90 minutes. Philadelphia has played down a man in three of its first seven games and has amassed ten yellow cards. Discipline clearly seems to be an issue for this side and given the Dynamoís propensity for physical play, they will have to keep their heads if they donít want to make it 4 of 8.

Bad news for one of our own
US National Team coach Bob Bradley made the shocking - and as some fans expressed - extremely illogical and idiotic decision to leave forward Brian Ching off the USMNT roster ahead of this summerís World Cup. The news was heartbreaking for Ching and the Dynamo - who would have been glad to be without his services for the next month had he made the squad - it does mean that Ching is available for this weekendís match. As long as he is mentally over the disappointment, expect him to start.

Ching is arguably the teamís best player, and a start could be the medication he needs in order to put the news behind him. Also returning from national team duty callups, Canadians Pat Onstad and Andrew Hainault will ensure that Dominic Kinnear has virtually every option available to him for his starting XI.

Will Danny Cruz start at left mid again after impressing in his debut against DC last week or will Kinnear opt for Corey Ashe? Does Hainault reclaim his starting right back spot over Richard Mulrooney? If so, does Mulrooney take Lovel Palmerís spot at defensive mid for a game? What about Joseph Ngwenya? The striker is officially a Dynamo player now after being cleared to play by FIFA. Is this the game he makes his debut? These are the decisions you have when your team is as deep as the Dynamoís and your roster is relatively injury free.

Prediction
As for my prediction this week, Iím torn. The streak served me well last week as I rode a Dynamo win to a win of my own. The problem is the streak says that a Dynamo loss is imminent Saturday. But how can that be? The opponent's an expansion team who has failed to gain even a draw on the road, let alone a win. The Dynamo roster is as healthy as itís going to be until Geoff Cameron returns, which means we can throw all kinds of crazy stuff at them and they wonít even know what hit Ďem. Screw it. All streaks come to an end at some point, right? Iím going toe-to-toe with this week's streak and Iím not afraid.

Prediction:
Dynamo 3, Union 0

Season Prediction Record: 6-4

 
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