You can’t score if you don’t try. That’s been the basic message from Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear to his attacking group all season.
The message seems to have resonated through the first 10 games of the season, as the Dynamo are at the top of several individual and team attacking categories in Major League Soccer.
“When we do finishing, Dom preaches, 'Keep it on frame;' if you don’t keep it on frame, you don’t give yourself a chance,” said rookie forward Will Bruin, who ranks in the top five in MLS in goals (4), shots (27), and shots on goal (12) this season.
“If you keep it on frame, you never know what will happen,” Bruin added. “[The opposing goalkeeper] may not make the save or give up a rebound, then you can make him pay.”
Bruin’s statement personifies his team’s mentality, and it is translating into statistical success. The club is tied for second in the league in total goals scored (13), assists (15), and shots (143), and midfielder Brad Davis has a league-high six assists this season to a wealth of attacking options in Bruin, forward Cam Weaver, and midfielder Geoff Cameron.
Houston’s statistical success is the product of a system of getting the ball in the box with numbers and applying pressure on the opposing goal. That’s especially true on set pieces, situations from which the Dynamo have scored seven of their 13 goals this year.
“We’ve got multiple options,” Bruin said. “We can get wide, we can go direct, we can relieve pressure. But it’s all about mobility and making runs.”
Despite being shut out for just the second time this year against Real Salt Lake last Saturday, Houston’s attack appears headed in the right direction. And while the stats are fun, for the Dynamo, it all comes back to a simple formula focused on applying constant pressure.
“Overall, the more you put the ball in the box with numbers around it, the more you can create some dangerous situations,” Kinnear said. “And the more you put your foot on the ball, the more you can probe, and it can open things up for you, which is what we want to do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.