The Houston Dynamo went into their home match against the San Jose Earthquakes coming off of two disappointing results: a road loss in New England and a blown 2-0 lead and home draw with Minnesota United FC. Wilmer Cabrera recognized the problems and switched the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 diamond, resulting in a comprehensive 2-0 victory over the Earthquakes.
He started two defensive midfielders for the first time — Eric Alexander and Juan David Cabezas — and he moved Boniek García back into midfield as a shuttler in the diamond. Alex played at the point of the formation behind the two strikers, Erick Torres and Alberth Elis.
Partly as a result of the formation adjustment, Alex got forward and drew a penalty kick within the first ten minutes. Torres finished the PK for his seventh goal of the year, which leads the league. The Brazilian almost got on the scoresheet himself just four minutes later when he got in behind and forced a last-second clearance from a San Jose defender.
Houston was the better side throughout the rest of the first half, spending most of their time in the opposition’s half and keeping San Jose from threatening Joe Willis’s goal; solo runs by Marco Ureña were the only true threats coming from the Quakes’ attack. Despite the amount of time they spent in the attacking half, the Dynamo were unable to hit a final pass and went into the second half up 1-0.
Early in the second half, Elis and Alex combined well in the box and after a well-placed cross from Alex, Elis put a header just wide. San Jose earned their first big opportunity of the match in the 66th-minute, when substitute forward Danny Hoesen got in behind and forced a 1v1 save from Willis.
The Dynamo pushed their lead to two with a 72nd-minute score from Elis. Quakes’ goalkeeper David Bingham had come out on a near-post corner-kick delivery and missed, allowing it to fall to the Honduran attacker at the back post for a tap-in finish. The Dynamo held on for three points at home and the first shutout of the season.
Harrison Hamm, our Kids Day Correspondent, is 15 years old and a freshman in high school in Pittsburgh, PA. He started writing about sports in seventh grade, and started writing for Dynamo Theory in the summer of 2015. He also covers MLS for The Comeback and Last Word On Soccer.