When the Houston Dynamo defense looks at a highlight reel from the 2013 season, they will probably fast forward through the team's last two games. Houston’s usually sturdy defense showed some cracks last week giving up six goals combined to Santos Laguna and FC Dallas.
The fact they conceded against good teams is nothing to be ashamed of. The way the goals came about however, through communication errors and set-piece defending, has raised some red flags.
“Overall, I think it’s just uncharacteristic,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “It’s not good and it’s not like it’s a lot of stuff from the run of play. It's set pieces, penalties, but it’s early on and we’ll sort it out."
Houston started the season strong at home with shutouts at home against D.C. United and Santos Laguna. The efforts were what you expect, calm, collected and mistake free from front to back.
The following two games on the road were another story. The Dynamo relinquished goals due to communication errors and, surprisingly, two set piece goals Sunday in Frisco, normally the club’s bread and butter.
“You can’t have a perfect game every time. We knew that walking off the field [Sunday],” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “You’ve got to draw some positives without completely forgetting about the negatives.”
The issues do not have the club panicked, but it does have them looking for a quick remedy.
The good news is that the mistakes are fixable. The communication issues can be ironed out and the set piece defense can be straightened out.
“There are good moments and bad moments whether it’s the first game or second or 28th game,” Kinnear said. “You’ve just got to try and keep confidence in yourself and each other and that’s what makes for a good team.”
The club will look to turn their defensive fortunes this weekend with the Vancouver Whitecaps coming to town, a team that offers, possibly, the fastest attack in the league. They also scored three on the Dynamo last season at BC Place.
An added challenge will be replacing starting center back Jermaine Taylor, who is currently with the Jamaican national team ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Off-season acquisition Eric Brunner or second-year defender Warren Creavalle are potential replacements for Taylor. Kinnear could also opt to use midfielder Ricardo Clark on the back line, a tactic he used last year in a similar situation against Real Salt Lake.
“We’ve got to stay focused and that’s the name of the game,” added right back Kofi Sarkodie. “We’ve got 30 games left. We’ve got to get into a rhythm and start firing and start tightening things up. Once we start to do that good things will come and we’ll start to win some good games.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @DarrellLovell.