Dynamic win

Dynamo silence soccer-rabid Portland, advance to Western Conference finals

Portland is a tough place to play, but the Dynamo got it done. Victor Araiza

Houston, don’t stop dreaming. The Dynamo are heading to their seventh conference finals appearance in the club’s 12th year history. 

With goals from Dylan Remick and Mauro Manotas, the Dynamo obtained a 2-1 victory over a Portland Timbers side that finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season. The win places Houston amongst the four remaining teams in Major League Soccer fighting for the MLS Cup.

“It’s rewarding for the players,” said Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera. “Now we continue dreaming and thinking about the possibilities that are in front of us. We are not on vacation yet.”

The team will have a mini-vacation of sorts, however, due to the FIFA international break. While four players head off to play with their national team, the rest of the club is off until Friday.

The break in the schedule pushes their date with defending MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders FC to begin November 21 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo will travel back to the pacific northwest for the second game of the series on November 30, with the winner of the combined scores advancing to the 2017 MLS Cup Final.

“We’re going to enjoy tonight and then we’re going to talk about [Seattle],” said Cabrera. “We have a long break. Too long in my opinion, but we’re going to work. Tonight, we’re just going to enjoy the game we have won.”

The break does come at a good time as it allows players to get some rest while opening the opportunity for injured players to return for the series with the Sounders. Injuries were part of the story in this series versus Portland as both teams were plagued with absences.

Four-time FIFA World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley was sidelined after suffering a right quad injury in training Saturday. Remick - who found out only hours before the game that he would be starting - took his spot in the starting lineup and provided the goal that qualified Houston into the next round.

“My right foot hasn’t done that a lot in my life,” said Remick, a defender by trade. “I was pretty surprised myself so it took a while to settle in. It was, again, a good team effort on the goal and in the game in general.”

The Dynamo also had to make a change at goalkeeper after reigning MLS Player of the Month Tyler Deric was suspended due to an off-field incident earlier in the week. Joe Willis, who started eight games during the regular season, stepped in with a solid performance. 

Now the Dynamo have two weeks to gameplan for their next opponent in the MLS Cup Playoffs, something many fans didn’t think to hear after the team missed the postseason in their previous three seasons. This is a new Houston Dynamo, however, and one that isn’t done playing soccer in 2017.

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Photo by Getty Images.

It's easy to blame Bill O'Brien for the Texans woes. He is a lousy GM, a below average play caller and his offense is boring, predictable and ineffective. Not once has he had a top 10 offense in the league. So he does not get a pass here.

But Deshaun Watson shouldn't, either.

Last year, Watson was in the MVP conversation entering the game in Baltimore. Four of the nine games he played before that, Watson had an ESPN Total QBR over 85, which is playing at an elite level.

Since that 41-7 debacle (where his QBR was 13.6), Watson has played 10 games. He has topped 85 just once (and barely - 85.6) in the win over the Patriots. While QBR is not the be all end all, it shows a trend. And before you blame the talent around him or the ridiculously stupid DeAndre Hopkins trade, eight of those games were with Hopkins in the lineup.

Over his last 10 games, Patrick Mahomes has done it five times (and just missed last week at 84.7). Lamar Jackson has done it six times in his last 10. Russell Wilson is six for his last 10. Dak Prescott? Three. Aaron Rodgers? Three. Ryan Tannehill? Three. Josh Allen? Two. Lamar Jackson led the league last year with an 83 for the season. Watson was sixth at 71.3. To be a top 10 quarterback, you had to average 64.1. In two games this season, Watson sits 20th, about where he was over the last six regular season games and two playoff games last year.

In essence, Deshaun Watson - who often gets compared to those players - is not on their level. Yes, O'Brien has a lot to do with it, but it's also time to start looking at Watson's performance and regression as an NFL quarterback.

In 2018, Watson had four such games. In 2017, four in six starts. And now ONE since that Baltimore game. In fact, he has topped 80 just once in that stretch, and 60 just three times.

What it tells us is Watson has been an average quarterback over his last 10 starts. The Texans invested heavily in an offensive line to protect him. They have added depth at WR but a net loss without Hopkins. Elite quarterbacks turn in performances like that roughly half the time. Getting more consistent has always been an issue for Watson. But since that Baltimore game, he has not been close. And he is being paid to be elite.

In the end, O'Brien is still the main culprit. He has hand picked all the players around Watson, he designed the offense, and he controls everything.

But it's time to quit giving Watson a pass. Right now, he is part of the problem.

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