Considering Houston’s defensive woes in the month of June – 11 goals conceded in the month's first four matches – the Dynamo took a glass-half-full outlook after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with the Chicago Fire.
Against a Fire squad that was content, especially late in the game, to sit back and counter, the Dynamo shut down any chance the visitors mustered. The home side missed their own chances to win the game, but Tuesday’s performance, coupled with last weekend’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia, has Houston once again feeling good about their defensive form.
“That’s the positive you take out of it, negating their chances,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear told the media after the match. “The back four’s been solid. We’re not giving up chances in the run of play, which is nice to see.”
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The consensus reason for Houston’s return of defensive form is a renewed attention to accountability, which demands that all 11 players take responsibility for theirs and their teammates’ actions.
“I’ve said all along the biggest thing with us is accountability and not taking plays off,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “I think somehow along the way we lost track of that and gave up a lot of goals for a stretch there. That’s not us and is not what we’re meant to do and we know it.”
It all seemed to pay off against Chicago. Houston posted their first shutout since May 15, limiting Dominic Oduro, Chris Rolfe, and the rest of the Fire’s speedy attack to just six shots total and just one on target.
The Dynamo also held the fire to just 39.3 percent of the possession, a stat that can be chalked up to improved communication and the three-man central midfield setup. The trio in the middle was able to clog up the passing lanes and restrict Chicago’s dangerous midfield from creating opportunities to get out on the break.
“We’ve always prided ourselves in being tough defenders and honest workers … and taking responsibility for our actions in the defensive end,” Brad Davis said. “[Kinnear] puts, not necessarily pressure, but expects a lot of us and we expect to give that to him.
“I think it’s being accountable for the work and organization and staying in a good defensive block. Not giving a team anything easy. … That’s what championship teams do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.