Life does go on, even after a devastating defeat. Following Sunday’s 1-0 loss in the MLS Cup final to the LA Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo were trying their best to see it that way.
“This is a tough pill to swallow,” defender Corey Ashe said shortly after the match. “I think many of us will focus on this game for a while.”
While Sunday’s defeat will certainly linger, Houston has a number of positives to take from the 2011 season that, in time, will help relieve the pain. The Dynamo can look back on a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding year and take pride in the fact that they made a return to the MLS Cup final, discovering a mix of veteran leadership and youth along the way that gelled well down the stretch.
“No one thought we were going to make it to the postseason,” defender Geoff Cameron said. “We had a great last three or four months and turned the season around and played some really great ball towards the end.”
The Dynamo's late-season form and lineup changes should serve them well in 2012. Houston committed to the youth movement before the season started and, when the team needed a midseason pick-me-up, coach Dominic Kinnear made three in-season moves for Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo, and Carlo Costly to bolster their forces. That shuffling allowed the Dynamo to move Cameron to center back, where he played at an All-Star level for the final two months of the season. The end result is a Houston squad that is built for success in the coming years.
“Maybe this will fuel the fire for next season as one of those things you take on the chin,” Cameron said. “I’m looking forward to next year. We have a great group of guys and are solid all around. And with some guys coming in, we’ll have an opportunity to make a run for it next year.”
When the dust finally settles, the Dynamo will look back on 2011 and remember all of the good things that came out of the season and look forward. However, pinpointing when Houston players will be able to see beyond their disappointment was tough to gauge Sunday night.
“It stings any time you lose, because we’re proud guys and want to win the MLS Cup every year,” said captain Brian Ching. “To get so close and fall short really stings, but we’re looking forward to next year getting into our new stadium.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.