Zeroes, goose eggs, clean sheets, or shutouts. However you want to term it, the Houston Dynamo defense has one often-elusive objective: keeping the other team off the board.
The importance of the team’s shutout last Saturday against Real Salt Lake is paramount as the Dynamo gear up to face three of MLS’ top attacking teams in the span of eight days.
Not only was the shutout at Rio Tinto Stadium good for the team’s confidence, but the way Houston held one of the league’s most dynamic offenses at bay should help going forward. Simply put, there is a formula the club wants to use in the coming weeks: break up chances and keep teams from getting good looks at goalkeeper Tally Hall.
“The fashion that we [shut out RSL] was good,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “They had one shot on goal, and then Andy Williams got a shot late, but the ball possession we had in the second half kept them away from goal.”
A major part of executing the game plan was their organization, which starts with the center-back pairing of Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault. The veteran duo does the bulk of the organizing in the back and has shown this season it can shut down opposing forwards en route to becoming one of the top center-back pairings in MLS.
“Bobby and Andre have been good,” Kinnear said. “They both attack the ball well and have a good understanding of each other. I think Andre’s having a good season for us, and Bobby’s a good talker and is very calm on the ball, so it’s a good combination that’s working well for us right now.”
After forging just their second shutout last weekend, Houston is looking to build on that momentum ahead of a tough three-game stretch that starts with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, continues with a trip to face the LA Galaxy on May 25, and concludes with a home match against rivals FC Dallas on May 28.
New York and Houston played to a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena on April 2.
“I think you have to take practice serious,” Kinnear said when asked how the Dynamo can duplicate their success at Rio Tinto this week against New York. “We know what happened on the weekend, and New York is going to look to correct what went wrong last time, so it’ll be a challenge.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.