In a match with few chances, the Houston Dynamo found themselves one Neil Benjamin finish away from a tough loss.
In the final 20 minutes of their CONCACAF Champions League opener in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night, the Dynamo pushed numbers forward chasing an ever-elusive game-winning goal. Twice, those pushes led to gaps in the back and chances for W Connection’s Benjamin to punish them. Yet the finishes, like many on both sides, failed to find the back of the net.
For a team that knows how important a point on the road is, the missed attempts by Benjamin saved a 0-0 draw that could help Houston advance out of Group 1 in the CCL.
“That’s bound to happen when you’re pushing late in the game to get a goal, sometimes you’re going to leave chances at the back,” Dynamo winger Andrew Driver told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “We did that a couple of times and we were lucky for them not to score.”
Benjamin’s first opportunity was the one he’ll not want to see on film. The 73rd-minute play started on a seemingly harmless clearance beat a failed step by Eric Brunner to put W Connection in a two-on-one with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. Benjamin, however, mis-hit his finish and, instead of scoring on an open net, parked the ball in the side netting.
The second came eight minutes later off a giveaway in midfield. This time, Hall came out and forced a bad angle and Benjamin’s attempt clanged off the framework.
“There were some miscues in midfield by us that led to them catching us on the break,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “I thought we were organized, but sometimes when you misplay the ball, the break is on and they had some pace to get behind us, which they did.”
If Benjamin had finished either of those chances, it would have made for a tough loss. The Dynamo spent the first 70 minutes as the better team and had the lion’s share of the good play. But space in front of goal and touch in the final third were tight.
In the end, the breakdowns and missed opportunities didn't cost them and the club exits a long trip to Trinidad and Tobago with a point. It’s a familiar script and one they feel will get them to their next step, which is advancing to the knockout rounds.
“I think the draw was pretty much a fair result,” Kinnear said. “I thought W Connection had some good players and to get a point on the road in a tournament like this is a positive.
“We did the same thing last year, which was try and get positive results on the road and it got us into the next round,” Kinnear said. “We’ll keep on trying to do that.”
Darrell Lovell covers Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.