After scoring twice and creating several more good opportunities, Houston will look to maintain their attacking momentum but cut out the defensive errors that saw an early 2-0 lead evaporate.
Two goals from Brad Davis put the Dynamo ahead after half an hour, but Jonathan Osorio pulled one back with 39 minutes gone and Dominic Oduro grabbed the equalizer in first-half stoppage time. The second period was open and chance-laden for both teams, but Jermain Defoe gave the home side the lead at 63 minutes and the striker made the points safe with another goal late on.
The result lifted the Canadians—who play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday evening—to third in the Eastern Conference. It left the Dynamo in ninth place, though had Houston held on to their lead the teams would have been level on points. It was the first meeting between the teams since June last year, but now they are facing each other twice in a week.
“There’s obviously a bad taste in our mouths from the way things went,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told reporters at Houston Sports Park. “Being 2-0 up away from home, we’re thinking this is a good start, let’s keep going and really we felt like we deserved to be 2-0 up and we thought we were going to deserve to win the game. And then it’s not good enough, so we’re chomping at the bit to play because we wanted to win that game and now we have an opportunity on Saturday… to make three points.”
Head coach Dominic Kinnear said the Dynamo are focused on rebounding from Saturday’s setback and making up ground on a team currently in a playoff place. “We want to try and beat them for a couple of reasons. One, they’re ahead of us in the standings now; two, at the end of the game it leaves a sour taste in your mouth and the feeling that you want to get back on the field and hope you win no matter who you play,” he said.
If the knowledge that some of the defensive wounds were self-inflicted is frustrating for the Dynamo, it also offers hope that careless play can be corrected. “We just made mistakes. We made individual mistakes, and team mistakes, and those lead to goals. We talked about it, we pointed it out, hopefully we can go forward here, we can definitely prevent what’s going on,” Kinnear said.
“We’re disappointed, we’re angry, we’re frustrated. 2-0 after [30 minutes] is a good way to go, especially on the road, then to walk in at halftime 2-2 is very disappointing. We did have chances at 3-2, some other things going forward, and obviously the last goal is a bit of a blow.”
Defoe now has 10 MLS goals in his first season in the league, putting him fourth in the quest for the Golden Boot. Defender Kofi Sarkodie hopes that having seen how he operates last weekend, the defense will be better able to keep the former Tottenham Hotspur forward quiet at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“For the most part [Defoe] didn’t have too many shots on goal. I think we have some stuff that we can build on for the game and make some improvements and hopefully do a better job and get a W,” the right back said.
The Dynamo had significantly more possession than their opponents, the same number of shots on target (8) and two fewer total shots (14), while the visitors took six corners to Toronto’s two. So Houston are optimistic that if they can tighten up at the back, the team has the capability to launch a series of results that will catapult them firmly into the postseason mix.
No better time to start than this weekend. “The season’s not over, there’s still tons of points to go. You have to go into [Saturday] thinking OK, this is the time to go on a winning streak,” said Kinnear.
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.