It’s a formula that’s all too familiar. An early goal conceded and the inability to capitalize on chances led to the Houston Dynamo’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Union Saturday night at Robertson Stadium.
The Union came out attacking from the first kick, pressuring the Dynamo and controlling the early portions of the match. That early pressure was enough to earn the Union an unlikely scoring opportunity through an attacking throw in.
“The way [Sheanon Williams] throws the ball is the first throw we have seen [like that],” Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell said. "It went over me, and I misread it."
Williams' long throw led to an open look for the always-dangerous Sebastien Le Toux. The Frenchman hit a shot off the crossbar, and the opportunistic Danny Califf hammered the rebound past goalkeeper Tally Hall for the early winner.
“On the first two or three, he was throwing them lopsided, and they were spinning funny," Boswell said. "I have never seen a ball thrown like that, and I have to make adjustments, and it’s unlucky to give up a goal so early.”
The early defensive lapse, one of the few on the night for the new Dynamo defense, forced the Dynamo to play catch-up for the next 85 minutes. The Union took the early lead as an opportunity to bunker in and close down space in the Dynamo’s attacking third. It was an effective strategy that resulted in the Dynamo struggling to find space to test new goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón the remainder of the match.
“I don’t think they did much the rest of the night,” Boswell said. “The biggest thing is we were never able to get our goal to open up the game. I think if we had gotten one, it opens up the game."
The Dynamo’s best chance came in the 68th minute when Geoff Cameron released Brad Davis down the left flank. Davis sent a low through ball past Mondragón, who had come off his line, to set up second-half sub Dominic Oduro in front of the net. However, the speedy forward was unable to put the ball on frame. The miss proved to be the Dynamo’s last chance at an equalizer.
"We had one good chance,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “If you don’t score goals like that, you aren’t going to win the game.”
The missed chances and early goal will stir up memories of the club’s tough 2010. And though the Dynamo are not happy with the result, it’s certainly not time to panic or rehash the past.
“We’ve got a new team and it’s a new year,” Kinnear said. “But we’re not satisfied about what happened tonight and we’re certainly not brushing it off.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.