Dynamo started the match on the front foot by scoring the first goal faster than I could set up my camera equipment. They showed an intensity I have yet to witness all season long. As I prepared myself for what I thought was going to be another loss, they proved me wrong and were the better team. The atmosphere was amazing and the crowd matched the energy coming from the players.
It was my first chance to shoot Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With plenty of Galaxy faithful on hand to support the away team, the Swedish super star was the center of attention. The Galaxy would draw level towards the end of the game. Hometown hero, Memo Rodriguez, would snatch a late goal to secure three points for the home team. Quioto was in fine form and demonstrated to me that he is the Dynamo’s best player at the moment.
On a very pleasant evening at home, SAFC were unlucky versus Orange County SC. Despite being clever on the counter and confident on the ball during the attack, SAFC could not finish the chances they earned. The first half went well for the hosts as they withstood the offensive efforts OCSC unleashed. The mood was still positive heading into the break.
Shortly after the second half began, Orange County opened the scoring from a free kick. Calls from the crowd demanded that Diego Restrepo be relieved of his duty for the evening as the game grew later. Cesar Elizondo finally made his club debut for SAFC after recovering from an injury. His impressive performance in the second half did provide an inspiring spark to the attack and he proved to me that he should be getting the start in the midfield moving forward.
On a chilly night at home, SAFC would earn a draw versus Swope Park Rangers. All of the action took place in the first half. Rangers found themselves on the front foot for a majority of the first half and found themselves in a prime position to take the lead. Kharlton Belmar converted Colton Storm’s pass in the 29th minute and opened the scoring.
Five minutes later, SAFC midfielder Pecka would draw the hosts level. This marked his very first goal for the club and he was named the SWBC Man of the Match. Ever Guzman provided the assist and later missed a chance to take the lead in the second half. Rafa Castillo came on the 79th minute but nothing significant materialized in the final third for SAFC.
Texas is like home for El Tri but on this occasion, Croatia would prove a point. In the sixteenth minute of play, Nestor Araujo suffered a major injury to his left knee and put his World Cup hopes in serious doubt. Mexico looked shaky in defence using three defenders in the back and would need to adjust in the second half if they were to impose their will upon the Croatians. The entire first half lacked a clinical finish from either side despite the Croatians looking more comfortable on the counter in front of a crowd just over seventy-nine thousand.
The introduction of Miguel Layun would prove costly for Osorio. His reckless challenge on Tin Jedvaj would gift Croatia a chance to take the lead. Ivan Rakitic would convert from the spot and secure his country a win over Mexico in Arlington. To make matters even worse for Mexico, Carlos Salcedo broke his clavicle after a hard fall. As a result, his World Cup status is now in question. Despite missing key players like Modric, Perisic,and Mandzukic, Croatia were the better team by good measure.
Dynamo hosted Vancouver on a pleasant evening where expectations were high for Houston considering last weeks’ thrashing of Atlanta. However, the Dynamo would find that the Canadian team was not as defensively weak as last weeks’ opponents. In fact, the Whitecaps produced the first goal when they were awarded a penalty in the twenty-seventh minute. Philippe Senderos was shown a yellow card for his reaction to the call and he would eventually be subbed off at halftime. Brek Shea would come off the bench to replace Marcel De Jong and this substitution would prove to be critical. Alberth Ellis drew the Dynamo level before the half when his convincing strike hit the back of the net.
Ellis was a threat to Vancouver every time he got a touch. He did very well to create chances for his team and looked solid in terms of fitness. Unfortunately, Shea ended up scoring shortly after the break. Despite having most of the possession and plenty of set pieces, Dynamo were unable to convert any of their chances. It must be said that Alphonso Davies and Kendall Watson were outstanding in terms of defense for the Whitecaps. Each player was able to deny Houston in the final third of the pitch and both looked relatively comfortable defusing each attempt on goal. It seems each cross Houston delivered was easily dealt with and there was no one present inside the box who could properly convert for the Dynamo. At the end of the day, I feel Senderos should have been left on the pitch because he might have caused problems for Vancouver considering how many corner kicks Houston had.
For the most part, the match between Mexico and Bosnia was a cagey affair. Both sides were ineffective in terms of finishing and neither side looked convincing in attack. The Bosnian team were very organized in the back but they could not connect a pass in the final third of the pitch. Mexico dominated possession most of the match and had more shots on goal. In the end, Ayala scored a header from a set piece during the second half and that goal decided the game.
Aimir Bekic was shown a red card at the 83rd minute. Jonathan Gonzalez was given his debut and got a chance to show what he is capable of. One day after FIFA approved his choice to play for the Mexican team, Osorio named him in the roster. From what I saw, he has legs to run for days and has plenty of confidence when he has the ball. Something tells me he is going to Russia and I am pleased he decided to play for a country that maximize his potential.