After Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union, the Houston Dynamo were left looking for answers.
Coming off two wins and a draw in their last three the Dynamo were slow out of the gates, committing several errors in the early going and never able to mount a second-half response. The flat start and inability to come up with some late magic meant a match of what-ifs and missed opportunities.
“I really thought we were ready to go before the game,” said captain Brad Davis after the match. “The past couple of weeks have been good, playing pretty well. I can’t really explain what went wrong besides a little bit of attitude, a little bit of grit.”
Houston exits the weekend just one point ahead of sixth place, currently held by the Columbus Crew. Having missed what they believe was a chance to put some distance between them and the cutoff line, the Dynamo are looking to use this week’s training ahead of next weekend's home match vs. New England to turn things around.
“We have four games left this year, so we’re still in the mix, so you know, this week, I’m sure, I can pretty much guarantee, is going to be a pretty intense week of training,” Davis said. “We need to come out with a much better attitude next week, ready to go.”
Costly second half
One of the themes of the day was Houston’s self-inflicted mistakes. None showed up bigger than a 49th-minute penalty kick that gave the Union back the lead.
The Dynamo looked to be on the right track after Boniek García slammed a 44th-minute equalizer off the post and into goal but that momentum evaporated when Freddy Adu, who notched a brace, stepped up and converted to seal Houston’s fate.
“We gave ourselves a chance with Boniek’s goal going into halftime but then we came out and the penalty hurt us a lot,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear.
To make matters worse, the Union’s third goal came from what looked to be an offside position.
Josué Martínez took an opportunistic chance in the 70th minute when a corner-kick scramble fell to him at the back post. Upon review it looked as if García had taken steps to put the Costa Rican international off. However, the flag stayed down and Martinez put the Dynamo’s chances to rest.
“Yeah, I watched the replay and it looked off to me,” said Will Bruin. “But you’ve just got to roll with it, I guess.”
Added Davis, who thought the Dynamo could have been granted a penalty of their own, “Those are referees’ decisions, and he didn’t make that decision. I think our locker room could say we didn’t play up to par today and at this time of year, that’s unacceptable.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.