The setting looked all too familiar for the Houston Dynamo. Final 10 minutes, down a goal, chasing the game and watching good chances fall by the wayside. That had been part of the script the previous five games, all losses.
But on Friday night things changed.
In his first game back after World Cup duty, Brad Davis stepped up with confidence after Chris Duvall committed a handball in the box in the 81st minute. The veteran left no doubt on the penalty as he buried the attempt to pull out a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls at BBVA Compass Stadium.
It was their first positive result in nearly two months, and while no one was jumping for joy, it provided glimmers of confidence for the club.
“I think you saw in this game a lot of the fight that we’ve been lacking the last few games,” said forward Will Bruin. “To be able to score goals is nice. Those three points are still eluding us but it’s a step in the right direction.”
That fight came from the opening whistle, as Giles Barnes scored the fastest goal in Dynamo regular season history just 39 seconds into the match. After 479 minutes without a goal and looking for a boost, it was a sight for sore eyes.
“It’s not just the way we scored early, but if you look at the play for 15 to 20 minutes after that was excellent,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “Our movement was dangerous. It was like all of a sudden we believed in ourselves again.”
While the goal gave a boost, having three midfield stalwarts back in the lineup helped as well. Davis was back after missing six games, Boniek García making his second start since returning from Brazil and Ricardo Clark started for the first time since April 17th, it was the first time the trio had been in the starting lineup since April 5, 14 games ago.
Davis had the equalizer and Clark grabbed a second assist for a diagonal ball to lead to Barnes’ goal.
“It goes without saying I think it showed tonight. If you miss three of your best players you’re going to struggle,” said midfielder Andrew Driver. “I think [having them back] made a massive difference in the place, especially with the early goal. It really gave our fans and us a lift.”
It was part of a strong performance, especially going forward with 14 shots on the night, four on goal, and promising performances from a host of players. There was the bad as well as Bradley Wright-Phillips ran his 2014 goal total against the Dynamo to five and his brace made it six games in a row in which Houston allowed multiple goals.
At the end of the day it’s a result that did not have the Dynamo celebrating, but certainly had them feeling positive for the first time in quite a while.
“At the end of the day you want to win,” right back Kofi Sarkodie, who assisted on the first goal, said. “It’s good we got a point, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement and we know that and we’re going to try and to progress and make a run at the playoffs.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.