Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear showed versatility in his tactics on Saturday night, switching to a formation with three in the back and three forwards in an attempt to find a late equalizer against D.C. United. Kinnear is known for running a 4-4-2 formation — the standard tactical set-up in MLS — but has shown in the past he is willing to change things up.
On Saturday, instead of switching to a 3-5-2 formation in search of more offense, Kinnear lifted rookie right back Kofi Sarkodie for forward Cam Weaver in the 78th minute to increase Houston’s pressure on D.C.’s defense and to create more scoring opportunities.
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With three bigger forwards — Weaver joined Brian Ching and Will Bruin for the final 13-plus minutes — manning the Dynamo front line, Houston attacked the D.C. flanks and sent a number of balls into the penalty area. The persistence paid off when Colin Clark’s cross found Ching in the box for an 89th-minute game-tying goal.
“[We] just went to a more attacking formation, and I think it was good that we kept swinging balls into the box,” Kinnear said. “I thought the pressure that we tried to put them under with balls in the box finally paid off.”
Catching a break
Ching’s last-minute equalizer was a quality strike, but had some help. The returning veteran — Saturday was Ching’s second start of the season — found space in the box and snapped a header that looked to be on target. D.C. rookie defender Perry Kitchen attempted to head the ball away, but his deflection wound up in the left side netting of DC’s goal.
“I think I kind of made a late run, so a lot of times when you do that late in the game, [the defense] really doesn’t pick you up,” Ching said. “Colin played a good ball, and [we were] a little bit fortunate to get a deflection that kind of crossed the keeper up, but I thought it was a deserved goal in that we had so many opportunities to tie the game.”
Houston was seeking a late equalizer due to the team’s inability to bury some very good chances earlier in the match. Two chances that stood out came from Danny Cruz, who had a shot thump off the crossbar in the 58th minute and, six minutes later, missed a chance to convert on an open net when his shot hit the base of the post.
“Obviously [I’m] a little happy that we came away with the point, but I thought we played good enough to win the game,” said midfielder Brad Davis, who converted a penalty kick in the 41st minute before leaving the game with a groin injury at the half. I thought we created a lot of chances and got a lot of balls in the box in dangerous areas. We were just unable to capitalize.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.