Dynamo must address defensive woes

Houston went from stingy to sloppy during 2010

If there’s one issue the Houston Dynamo must address first in this offseason, it’s turning around the team’s defensive record.

Houston went from leading MLS in goals conceded in each of the last three years to suddenly conceding the second-most goals in the regular season in 2010.

“I don’t see us as a poor defensive team, but the record says something else, and it’s been mistakes by committee,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “A lot of the goals we’ve given up this year were very avoidable. … I think it boils down to a lack of communication and lack of concentration.”

There is no doubt that the Dynamo seemed to have an uncanny knack for letting any small mistake in the back punish them this year. Expecting things to change because the team will not make similar mistakes again, however, would be a bit naïve.

“The guys we had, we were capable of doing better,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “[Our goals against] hurts. Every team that I’ve been on, we’ve been in the top three in terms of goals against.”

While the team’s defenders may share a portion of the blame for the poor defensive record, Kinnear has always preached that defending is a team function. As a result, enduring stretches of the season without Brian Ching or Geoff Cameron certainly hurt, and the team is still struggling to fill the hole left by midfielder Ricardo Clark, who left last offseason for Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga.

“Ricardo did silent work,” Boswell said. “Everyone else got to see what it was like without him. You have a world-class player like that who does all the work, and it makes your job easier.”

While it is easy to point to Clark’s absence, Houston’s struggles with possession were just as big of a problem. While not seeing much of the ball, Houston conceded a shocking number of goals late, including setting a league record by allowing four game-winning goals in stoppage time.

“We’ve been a different team late in the game,” Kinnear said. “We’ve given up 11 goals in the last 15 minutes of games, and that’s cost us points."

Added Boswell, “When we come back, we have to make sure we fix it. It was a long year, but you have to take responsibility to fix it and make it better, and I am definitely part of that.”

Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to dwaincapodice@gmail.com.