Through four games this season the Houston Dynamo defense has been very tight, allowing just two goals. Now the team is looking to put its attack on the same level as their stingy backline.
Houston have struggled to generate goals this spring: Through four games they’ve scored just twice, managing eight shots on target – the lowest amount in the league through the first four weeks. It’s a very small sample size, but it shows Houston’s struggle to turn possession, which they’re happy with, into production.
Heading into a tough road test vs. the Seattle Sounders on Saturday (9 p.m. CT, ROOT SPORTS), the club will need to carve out innovative opportunities – and take them.
“If you look at the chances we’ve had, it’s about being a bit more clinical,” said forward Giles Barnes. “I just say we need to use a bit more imagination. Sometimes that safe ball, for me, is a little bit too safe.
“Some of the best players in the world, because of their imagination, they see things and they want to try it and maybe that’s what we need to get to. Instead of making that pass sideways to get it into crossing position, when someone can shoot or someone can slice one through, maybe that’s what we need to do.”
For the most part, Houston have been able to hold possession when they’ve wanted this season, and keep their shape, which helps the defense. What’s been missing is the final pass to translate passing into clear opportunities to score.
Since his arrival, first-year head coach Owen Coyle has pushed his charges to take chances with the ball and express themselves. On the training field, that’s the usual message: Move the ball, get in a good spot and take the open look. But it’s been missing in game action so far.
After last week’s scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids, forward Will Bruin echoed Barnes’ thoughts, saying the club needs to go north and south in the attack more than side to side. To keep pace with a loaded Sounders attack, the Dynamo will likely have to finish their chances clinically.
“Sometimes we can get that pass, that cross, in a little bit earlier. That comes with being inventive and playing on the front foot,” Coyle said. “Every day you hear the same stuff, so we’re pitching those messages. That’s something the players, when they enter in that field, they have to take that forward. Bit by bit that will come together for them. There’s no undue stress.
“That’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time, but we know it’s what we’re putting in place.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.