Sometimes all it takes it seeing the ball hit the back of the net to jar a team out of a funk. Friday, the Houston Dynamo got that jolt just 39 seconds into the match when Giles Barnes struck and ended a 479-minute scoreless streak.
They went on to score another in what would be a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, but in the process the Dynamo attack seemed to find its way again. With a full complement of attackers in their rightful places, the ball was moving around quickly, the shots were coming and with it was with a semblance of confidence and fight the club had sorely missed as they have struggled to generate consistent output this season.
“Getting guys back and guys playing in their normal positions where I think they help us the most,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear on what stopped the scoring drought. “For the most part, the six going forward were in comfortable positions and that helps.”
Getting players back in a position to succeed is something Kinnear’s struggled to be able to do in earnest the past two months. Injuries and absences has forced him to dress less than a full bench and kept him from keeping players where they are best suited, instead putting them where they can plug leaks.
This week he had Brad Davis and Boniek García back from World Cup duties and Ricardo Clark starting for the first time since suffering a concussion April 17. The improvement showed. No one was that more prevalent for than Barnes, who after serving in midfield, was finally back up top of the formation who looked good alongside Will Bruin.
“It was nice to be back up top. Will and I have a nice partnership with each other,” said Barnes. The striker made an immediate impact and set the tone with the fastest regular season goal in franchise history, which came from a good play that started with Clark.
“I think [having players back] frees up other places. Brad coming back in you get service. [Boniek] coming back in you’ve got service. Rico in there and you’ve got an engine. It's people playing in their right positions, it makes a big difference for any team.”
With all things finally set up normally in the attack, the hopes were high and the excitement could be seen with the celebration after the first goal. Now the trick is to bottle that up and move forward.
That has been too tall a task this season as the club’s failed to carry over success throughout the season. In fact, the Dynamo have not scored multiple goals in back-to-back games this season. That and the club’s previous five games without a goal are worrying signs.
But with stars back in the lineup and players set up to succeed, the club is at least hoping that things are finally starting to turn around.
“We know we’re a good team,” said Bruin. “Guys are getting healthy and getting back so we’re going to get the ball rolling. A point’s something to work on and we’ll go from there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.