The answer to one of the Houston Dynamo’s most pressing preseason questions can be found in the last place you’d expect to look.
The Dynamo back line has scored three of the team’s seven goals this season, and the team’s reliable center back is actually tied for the team lead in scoring with a striker. Add in a recent game-winner from another defender, and you’ve got the makeup of some unexpected surprises this season in Houston.
“I was giving the guys a hard time about scoring goals, and they’re going to have to hear it again this week too,” defender Bobby Boswell said Saturday after scoring his second goal in three games this year, this time to salvage a 1-1 draw against Chicago. “I am going to keep trying to put it in the back of the net.”
[inline_node:334116]Boswell’s two goals have him tied with striker Cam Weaver for the team lead this season. Defender Hunter Freeman also scored his second career MLS goal – and first since returning to the league this offseason – in a late win over New England on April 17. The Dynamo, meanwhile, are riding a five-game unbeaten streak.
But is it really such a surprise? With size on the back line that is tough to match, the Dynamo continue to find ways to exploit their physical advantage and winger Brad Davis’ ability to serve a great ball on set pieces. Two of the defenders’ goals this season have come as the result of a Davis free kick.
For Boswell, the success follows a change in focus and responsibility. The center back is no longer looking to set picks to get others clean looks. He’s looking to be more aggressive, attacking the ball, and working to put the shots on frame. In addition to working on being a weapon on set pieces, the defender has been active in the run of play. Pushing forward more this season, Boswell’s playing the ball to his teammates and providing another option in the attack.
“One of my goals this year is to be in better condition, and I did some research on where Brad is putting some balls, so I am trying to be more active going forward,” Boswell said. “It’s good to contribute, but the only repercussions are my teammates have to hear about it. It’s all fun when you’re winning.”
Boswell’s early play is lifting his teammates and providing added scoring punch to a team that is starting to build momentum early in the season.
“The goals are going to come from all over, all year,” Boswell said. “It’s not about who’s scoring the goals; it’s about how the team’s doing. It's five games unbeaten, and we want to keep that going.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.