The Houston Dynamo had plenty of chances in their Sunday night showdown with the San Jose Earthquakes – and the misses proved costly in a 3-0 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Twice in the first half the Dynamo were a Jon Busch save away from a goal and lead on the road. The buildups were good, but all that was missing was the finish to cap them off.
That was compounded by mistakes at the back and a foul in the box that led to a penalty kick.
“[It’s] bitter when you lose, no matter if you played well or not,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said in his postgame comments. “We need to defend better and finish chances.”
Defending better for Houston came down to a simple theme: cutting out mistakes.
All of San Jose’s goals came from plays the Dynamo had a hand in.
The first came in the 37th minute when goalkeeper Tally Hall caught a back pass from David Horst inside the box. The result was a rare indirect free kick that Khari Stephenson slammed home. Hall’s night got worse in the 70th minute when Atiba Harris beat him to a ball at the top of the box that ended with the midfielder knocking in his own rebound for the final tally.
Those miscues bookended a 58th minute penalty kick goal by Stephenson that came on a foul by Corey Ashe on Steven Lenhart. The call could be debated, the result, however, was another goal and self-inflicted wound.
“I think it’s fortifying the defense a little bit,” midfielder Servando Carrasco said when asked how to fix the issues. “I think we’ve been solid all year … maybe just focus a little bit at times. I think if we all focus on our individual game in the long run, hopefully by next week, we can change those mistakes and move forward.”
Houston avoided excuses over the limited number of players available – they only dressed 17 on the night due to international call-ups, suspensions and injuries – and fatigue from a cross-country trip.
Instead, they admitted that the internal miscues that plagued them Sunday, and throughout the season, need to stop if the club wants to finish where they believe they should.
“I think we’ve just got to cut out the errors we’ve been making as a team,” said midfielder Andrew Driver. “These are massive for us, and we just need to stick together. Obviously, we’ve had a few injuries and we just need to pull together and focus on the Colorado [Rapids]. … We need to get a victory as soon as possible.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.