It was a familiar position for the Houston Dynamo. After they controlled the first 50 minutes of Saturday's game against Chivas USA, Eric Avila turned a Dynamo mistake into a conceded goal to level the match.
At times this season that moment would have been the start of a downward spiral. On Saturday, it was simply a bump in the road.
Instead of falling deeper into a hole when Avila tied the game at 1-1, Giles Barnes scored his second of the night four minutes later. Thirteen minutes later Will Bruin scored, too – and by the end of the night Boniek García had capped a 5-1 rout of the Goats.
It was a response the Dynamo knew they had in them, but one the club had rarely seen this year. The turnaround had the club in high spirits and feeling like they’ve turned a corner mentally at the right time of the season.
“I think that shows the character of this team,” said Bruin about the team’s response. “A few weeks ago, maybe we put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves. This week we’ve had a few meetings and have really come together a lot as a team and these last two performances have shown that.”
The turnaround has led to the club’s first back-to-back wins since beating the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution July 6 and July 13.
The goal that started it all came from Barnes, who had already scored the game’s first goal, getting in behind the Chivas defense – something that would become a recurring theme on the night.
“We made a little bit of a boo-boo for them to get their goal. But the guys kept on pressing and were relieved to get a goal back right away,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “I think to get that goal it gave them a lift and maybe [Barnes' second] knocks them down a little bit. That goal right after they scored was huge for us.”
Instead of sulking, Houston responded and 40 minutes later they’d finished the game with five goals, the most the club has scored this season.
While it was against an overmatched Chivas team, that response is something they’ve not just been looking for this season, but something they expect.
“I think the way we responded says a lot about this team,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “It’s something we hadn’t done earlier and the middle part of this season and it’s something we’re doing now.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.