CCL: Flank play, size advantage tell tale in Dynamo win

Matchups are about maximizing your strengths while exploiting your opponent’s weakness.

That is exactly what the Houston Dynamo did Wednesday night in their 3-1 win over CD FAS.

Coming into the game the Dynamo knew that they would have a definite advantage in the air. Their aerial prowess along with FAS’ relatively small backline was something head coach Dominic Kinnear looked to exploit.

OPTA CHALKBOARD: Return to the 4-4-2 pays dividends for Dynamo

Three headed goals later it was mission accomplished and a good start to Houston’s 2012 CONCACAF Champions League campaign.

“We talked about it before the game that they were scored on on a corner against Olimpia and we felt there was a possibility that we would have that advantage if we could whip in some good ones,” the Dynamo boss told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “And that worked to our advantage tonight.”

To maximize the height advantage Kinnear dusted off a familiar game plan, returning to the 4-4-2 and putting 6-foot Brian Ching and 6-foot-4 Cam Weaver on the front line. Less than 20 minutes in, both had tallied and Houston were cruising with a 2-0 lead.

Midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, himself standing 6-foot-1, added the insurance tally with an unmarked header of his own in the 60th minute.

“We’ve played it for a long time and it didn’t take any getting used to. Our game plan was to get the ball wide and into the box and that’s how we scored,” Ching said. “We knew we’d have a height advantage and we made use of it.”

Led by Watson and Colin Clark, who played roles in all three goals, Houston’s flank play was consistent in creating the type of chances that make a 4-4-2 so dangerous.

FULL LINEUPS AND BOXSCORE

“It’s important because you can make all the runs you want but if you don’t have good service it doesn’t happen,” Kinnear said. “We took advantage of our chances and our chances came from wide tonight.”

While the Dynamo may not return to their 4-4-2 permanently, having the option to dust it off and be effective is one that could pay huge dividends as they navigate a tough tournament and congested schedule.

“This is traditionally what Houston’s been known to play and it’s pretty easy to get back into with Brian and Cam, and all our forwards, to get back into it and do well,” Clark told MLSsoccer.com. “When you can get the ball out wide and get service in the box, with the forwards we have on our roster, it’s pretty easy to rack up assists.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.