Coming into Saturday night’s crucial match with the New England Revolution, the Houston Dynamo had a clear plan of attack: get the ball wide.
Looking for a boost, head coach Dominic Kinnear went back to a tried and true method to ignite his club’s attack. Kinnear employed a 4-4-2 formation to help the club capitalize on its crossing and finishing abilities, and the desired results came in the 77th and 93rd minute, both from wide play.
“It comes from possession and movement. We tell the guys drop it in the middle and we make sure to go out wide,” Kinnear told the media after the match. “We have two guys in Boniek [García] and Brad [Davis] who cross a good ball and one thing you want to do is pressure them in their area.”
The Dynamo pushed the issue from the first kick, sending balls wide early and often to the always dangerous Davis and García. While a wet field and some missed connections delayed the eventual result, Houston was persistent with the plan.
“The game slowed down a bit too much but we told the guys at halftime ‘pick the tempo up and the wide areas are still going to be friendly to us’ and it came true in the end,” the Dynamo boss said.
Houston was rewarded for their width twice down the stretch, first when Davis found a streaking Ricarrdo Clark for the game winner in the 78th minute and then when rookie Warren Creavalle found García in stoppage time to seal the deal.
“Dom makes adjustments as he sees fit. Sometimes it’s about personnel, I think, and getting certain guys on the field,” defender Bobby Boswell said about the change. “They try and funnel everything through the middle and we tried to expose them on the outside and it seemed to work.”
Houston’s ability to execute from out wide paid off as the goals helped the Dynamo stay one point clear of the Columbus Crew, who earned a 3-2 against the Philadelphia Union, in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
“We weren’t going to give up any goals in the back and guys were getting the ball wide and bombing the box,” Boswell said. “We’re tough at home for a reason. Sometimes it ain’t the prettiest but all that matters is that we’re still undefeated and we’re getting wins and that’s what we need to do and that’s the most important thing.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.