The Houston Dynamo may have dominated the 36th regular season Texas Derby against FC Dallas and registered their first shutout of the season in the process, but the 0-0 home draw against their rivals didn’t leave coach Tab Ramos and his players happy as they still seek that first elusive win of the 2020 season (0W-2L-4D).
“I’m not okay with the result,” Ramos said postgame. “I’m okay with the effort and I think the team was ready to play. I think they took the game to Dallas for basically 90 minutes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result—I’m not happy with that.
“I think we did exactly what we wanted to do, which was to take possession away from them. Dallas is a team that usually has possession every game, and we wanted to make sure that we were the ones dictating the game,” Ramos continued. “I liked the way the team looked today. I liked how organized the team was defensively, so we solved some issues there. Attacking wise, we spread the field and we made Dallas work for 90 minutes, chasing the ball. So I felt that we’re in a good spot.”
Houston Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos during the Texas Derby | Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports
Ramos praised the performance of his team and he enjoyed it enough to limit the subs to just one. Starting center forward Christian Ramirez, who was making his first start since October 2019, was subbed out with eight minutes remaining. Regular starter Mauro Manotas sat out with an injury and wasn’t in the squad.
“Definitely felt a little bit of rust in areas of my game that I am normally sharp in. I felt good otherwise,” said Ramirez, who felt his team deserved the win and called the draw “disappointing.”
“As a team we really dictated the tempo tonight, we played the game on our terms. It was one of the first times where from start to finish it really felt like it was on our terms. The way we moved the ball quickly, the way we were higher up the field. And it really felt like we were imposing ourselves on the game and on them the whole time.”
When Ramirez came out of the game, it was right winger Alberth Elis who moved to the center forward “No. 9” position with Ramos hoping the move “would shake things up a little.” Although there was no goal that resulted from the shift, Ramos indicated that Elis enjoys playing as the top striker and he could entertain it again in the future.
Alberth Elis in action against FC Dallas | Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports
But to solve the lack of goals against a Dallas team that played with a five-man backline, the Dynamo coach wants to see his team have more confidence to take shots instead of making the extra pass around the box. He also wants the left winger to get to the end line as effectively as they do with Elis on the right. But he trusts that these improvements will come with more games.
As for FC Dallas, head coach Luchi Gonzalez sounded a positive vibe after his team collected only a single point from their last two games at home. Against Houston he opted for a 5-man backline (more of a 3-4-3 that morphed into a 3-5-2) in lieu of their regular 4-3-3 and he said the tactical versatility will be a mark of the 2020 squad: “We pride ourselves on being able to adapt.”
“We suffered. And in that suffering I saw positive steps because we’re going to need that for the season, especially away,” Gonzalez said postgame. “Imagine with that defensive effort at home and generating more offensively — it’s steps that are going to help us moving forward.”
Houston’s playing style after the last five weeks of training under Ramos is clear: make teams uncomfortable with selective pressing, moving the ball fast in possession and controlling the tempo of the game. That will be the formula to their first victory.
“The first win is always the toughest one. Once we get that I believe we will get going,” Houston’s Ramirez said. “This team has got a lot of talent to get to the playoffs and make some noise.”