Soccer is a game of context, and the circumstances at the final whistle made a point on the road against the Philadelphia Union a welcome one for the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Entering the game on a three-game losing streak, Houston came out firing, launching 12 shots at the Union while taking control of the first 45 minutes. The second half was less impressive, but the visitors withstood a pressing Union attack and hung on for the final 16 minutes without right back Kofi Sarkodie, who saw a second yellow card due to time wasting.
It was a more uneven performance than the club wanted, yet it produced a point they will gladly take to get moving in the right direction.
“I think the guys held together well and dug deep the last little bit, and getting a point out of that was good,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “It’s a conference opponent; it’s a tough game playing down a man for the last 15 minutes.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think in the first half we wanted more than just one point. But I thought the second half, considering the situation, I think the point was OK.”
Houston’s ability to see that scoreless draw through while down to 10 men the last 16 minutes due to Sarkodie’s ejection was encouraging, as was their attacking play in the first half where they pushed numbers early and often. The Dynamo's play was good enough to create 12 chances – they created just nine a week ago in a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution – and they were a Will Bruin shot off the post away from taking a first-half lead.
“They had a lot of energy and energy’s a good thing,” center back David Horst told MLSsoccer.com after the game about the attack.
Added Bruin: “We were so close to getting that goal. It did not happen, but at least we had good shape and stayed compact defensively and kept them at zeroes.”
The second half did not follow the same script. Houston failed to put a full 90-minute performance together falling under the Union’s pressure in the second half where they failed to register a shot. According to Kinnear, the club suffered from becoming “too narrow” in their play.
Unlike last week, Houston’s defense held up, anchored by a dominant aerial performance from the returning Horst.
The highs and lows of the game provided plenty to talk about. For Houston, while it was not the consistent, game-winning performance they would like, it is a point that a team looking to get back on their feet will take.
“We had those three losses and wanted to get back on the right track,” Horst told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “Right now we’re putting parts of games together and if we can keep putting parts of games together constantly, eventually the whole thing will come together for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.