Out of 90 minutes of soccer on Wednesday night, the most important may have been the very first one. Right out of the gate, the Houston Dynamo’s Will Bruin had a golden chance cleared off the line by Columbus defender Chad Barson.
From the looks of that play, it seemed as if Houston would have ample opportunities to tally vs. the Crew. Instead, the early miss will go down as the first in a line of regrettable bounces that led to a jarring 2-0 loss to Columbus at Crew Stadium.
“We had some really good chances early but didn’t capitalize,” Dynamo goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley told reporters in place of head coach Dominic Kinnear, who was not available to the media. “It’s one of those things that are unlucky – it really could’ve changed the game, but it didn’t tonight.”
Bruin’s early work in the first half was a finish away from being masterful. On his first chance, he shrugged off young center back Eric Gehrig, but after beating Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson, his shot was just tardy enough to allow Barson the time to catch up.
The third-year striker had two other clear shots, but he failed his finishes on both were either off the mark or saved by Lampson.
The loss is certainly not all on the shoulders of Bruin, but notching a goal early could’ve changed the complexion of the game before it had really gotten started. Instead, the misses turned out to be killers.
The Crew, who won their first game under interim head coach Brian Bliss, recuperated to see out the first half before scoring twice in the second courtesy of goals from Justin Meram and Ryan Finley. Both caught Houston, who were pushing numbers forward, out of sorts.
“I thought we had a lot of the play early they made some adjustments,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “We just got pulled out of place pushing forward. It was one of those nights. We were a little unlucky not to finish our chances and they took advantage of theirs.
“There’s no real finger to point,” Boswell continued. “You win as a team, you lose as a team and tonight, we lost as a team.”
The loss leaves Houston on the outside looking in to the playoff race. They leave the Buckeye State tied with the New England Revolution on 37 points, but would miss the postseason on the first tiebreaker, goals scored, if the season ended today. The tough loss leaves the Dynamo with eight games to make their case for another postseason run.
“It’s frustrating but we’re a team and we’ll stick together,” midfielder Adam Moffat said. “Eight more games left. Five are at home and three on the road. We still feel it’s in our hands, but it’s a tough one to take tonight.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.