If the Houston Dynamo have any hope of turning around their 2010 season, they know their defense will need to improve dramatically.
“We haven’t been good,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “The team has high standards, and we are our own hardest critics. We know it’s not good enough. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and sometimes we’ve had that happen this year, but you can’t say that. You have to go out and get it done.”
To say that the team has not been good defensively might be a bit of an understatement. There are currently only three teams that have conceded more goals this year than Houston, and none in the Western Conference. Though Houston has played an extra game or two than some of its counterparts, the Dynamo are much closer to the bottom of the league in goals-against after leading the league in each of the last three years.
“Our goals-against is nowhere close to where we like it,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It’s not just the defense, it is team defense. [Those] guys up front and in the middle, we need to be harder to play against. Also, I think possession [is important as] it is the best defense you can have. If you hold on to the ball, it makes it easier.”
Houston has also had to deal with some injuries defensively in the first half of the season. Eddie Robinson and Mike Chabala have both missed games, but perhaps the biggest injury to the team’s overall ability to defend has been that to forward Brian Ching. Ching’s ability to hold up the ball and his work ethic defensively have been a large part of Houston’s success in the past.
“We can make all the excuses we want, but the bottom line is that there is not a guy out there who hasn’t played with other guys in the last two years,” Robinson said. “We have no excuses. Yeah, [injuries are] difficult, but we are professionals. I think for us it is time to throw excuses out the window and get back to basics.”
Getting back to the basics includes a lot of different things from the Dynamo.
“It’s a total team effort,” Ching said. “The forwards [need to do better] holding the ball, to the midfielders not giving the other team time and space on the ball, and our defenders not making silly mistakes.”
The break came at a perfect time for the struggling Dynamo defense. The team has used the time off to get healthy, regroup, and hopefully it can now focus on turning the ship around.
“That’s part of the good thing about the break: When things aren’t going your way, it’s not bad to have a break to get your head and body right,” noted Boswell. “But we are looking forward to getting back on the field to try to get this thing going in our favor, and it’s good we have a home game to do it.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.