After a first half of seeing 60 percent of the possession but no goals, the Houston Dynamo were frustrated. Seeing good play on the field, head coach Dominic Kinnear preached patience. And after the final whistle blew, the plan paid off and the result was theirs.
Houston controlled the ball from first kick against a Philadelphia Union team on Friday night that showed heavy legs, and the Dynamo took advantage pinging the ball around the field, putting together good passing sequences.
As Kinnear suggested, the reward finally came in the way of two second half goals for an eventual 2-0 win at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“I thought we were inches away in the first half from scoring whether it was a pass through or a touch or we weren’t pulling the trigger at times,” Kinnear said. “[I] told the guys at halftime ‘play simple, play quick. We’re inches away so keep believing.’”
Houston’s enjoyed the ball in past games, but the work in the final third was what stood out against the Union. With the ball in dangerous spots the club was able to put combinations together and used the ball to put pressure on the Union defense.
The best example of this came on Will Bruin’s scoring sequence. The forward, who shook off an ankle injury suffered in the first half of last week’s game at the Seattle Sounders to start against Philadelphia, capitalized on two quality touches from Brad Davis and Giles Barnes for the winning goal, his fifth game-winner of the season.
“It was a great ball by Brad and a great run by Giles and then a great ball by Giles,” Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. "That’s the bread and butter inside the six. That’s what a center forward’s got to do when they get a ball in the box and put them in.”
While Houston enjoyed some good work, it wasn’t always pretty.
Bruin said that the first half was “sloppy” at times as the club was in a hurry to pounce on what they knew was a tired Philadelphia club that was coming off a 120 minute win over FC Dallas in the US Open Cup Tuesday.
“We were trying to force it a little too much. We knew they were going to be tired and we I think we were trying to force it down the middle,” Bruin said. “We came in and had a good talk in the locker room and said we would have a lot of the ball, be smart with possession and when we go we’ve got to go.”
Eventually they settled down and in the second half the field tilted in their direction and the good work paid off.
“Tonight we just felt that, especially tonight, it was going to open up and we kept creating chances,” Davis said. “We were a bit frustrated coming in half coming and not being able to score a goal but we kept with it. We kept a good mentality, got ourselves a goal and then a second. All around I think it was a good night for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.