Mental errors the story in painful CCL loss

Kinnear: “Anytime you make mistakes at the back you’re spelling trouble for yourself.”

Heading into Wednesday’s clash with Santos Laguna, the Houston Dynamo knew they had to play a clean game to have a chance to advance. That did not happen.

Houston conceded three goals to Santos to drop the game 3-0, and their quarterfinal series with the Liga MX side 3-1 on aggregate.

Losing the game was painful, but the way the goals came about – mental errors from a usually sturdy defense – perhaps hurt more.

OPTA Chalkboard: Dynamo can't get unstuck at Santos

The first goal was the combination of a Warren Creavalle foul in the box and some bad luck that Tally Hall’s kick save on Juan Pablo Rodríguez stayed in front of goal. The second was a mix-up between Hall and center back Bobby Boswell that allowed Herculez Gomez to pounce. The final tally was the result of a missed mark on the back post off a short corner.

Three unusual mishaps, three goals.

“Anytime you make mistakes at the back you’re spelling trouble for yourself,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Torreón after the match. “They’re a good team. You really need to not make mistakes at that end of the field and when you do there’s opportunities for that to hurt you. And that’s definitely what happened tonight.”

Houston were not without their own chances, usually off of restarts. But the final touch was never quite there.

“We were dangerous on set pieces the entire 180 minutes,” Kinnear said. “Before they scored their first goal, we had a good chance off a set piece. Before they scored their second goal, we had a good chance off a set piece. Hopefully, Seattle takes note of that and beats them.”

COMPLETE LINEUPS AND BOXSCORE

In the end, the early miscues and missed opportunities were a recipe for disaster giving a good team too much help. Now the Dynamo will focus on making sure it doesn’t become a pattern during the season.

“We gifted them a couple of goals as a defense,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told MLSsoccer.com. “That’s a good team that put us under pressure and we rewarded that pressure with goals that are uncharacteristic of us defensively. I feel like we’re a better team than what we showed tonight.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.