The Houston Dynamo went into Saturday night’s match against Real Salt Lake facing questions about the direction in which the club was heading following two consecutive losses which exposed some glaring lapses.
The hard-fought scoreless draw at Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL now has a 29-match unbeaten streak in MLS play, provided more than a few answers as the Dynamo responded with a renewed vigor and cohesion that the club was desperate to get back.
“We thought we could have stole one or got one and came away with three points,” said rookie forward Will Bruin, who again led the Dynamo in shots and shots on goal. “But we didn’t give anything away, didn’t make any mistakes or give up stupid goals. So we’re happy with that, especially after two losses.”
Dominic Kinnear’s squad was not only able to bottle up the struggling RSL attack, but Houston was also able to pick and choose its opportunities going forward. It’s the overall performance that makes the 0-0 tie feel like a good result.
“They’re a good team [Real Salt Lake], and it’s a tough place to play,” Kinnear said. “The team showed a lot of determination, and I’m happy for the guys. Both teams played pretty well, and both teams had chances. It was a pretty fair result at the end of the day.”
The key to the Dynamo picking up the point was their ability to play an organized brand of team defense while also being selective with their attacks. Real Salt Lake enjoyed the majority of the possession through the first 60 minutes, but the Dynamo back line held up well, giving up just one shot on goal on its way to securing Houston's second clean sheet of the season. It was the defensive response Kinnear was looking for from a group that had conceded some shaky goals of late.
On the attacking side, Houston emerged late in the match, forcing RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make three saves in the final 30 minutes. The only element lacking was the final touch.
“The first half we held them strong and fought hard and then in the second half we turned it on, possessed the ball, and I thought we dominated most of the second half,” midfielder Geoff Cameron said. “You look back, and we had chances to put the ball in the back of the net. With a little more composure and that final pass, we could have come out of here with three points.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.