With 34 minutes to go against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday evening, the Houston Dynamo had a golden chance to pull out a result.
Gonzalo Pineda had just been sent off to leave the Sounders with 10 men to defend a one-goal lead. When the final whistle blew, though, the scoreline was the same and the visitors were left to reflect on an attack that continued to struggle to create chances.
“We kept trying to chip balls in the middle when they have 10 guys standing on their 18 and that’s hard to do,” Dynamo captain Brad Davis said. “We need to be able to figure these things out to figure out what’s working and what’s not working, so our decision-making just needs to be better. There were times when we went up a man that we kept trying to do things that weren’t working.”
Houston have struggled with creating quality chances in the first six games overall. Heading into the game in Seattle, the club had produced just eight shots on target and two goals on the season.
With the man advantage, the Dynamo looked like they had a surefire opportunity to cure their ills. But instead of finding the innovative touch they’ve been looking for, the Dynamo were bereft of ideas on the road and settled for crossing into a crowded penalty box where the Sounders set up shop in the middle of the pitch.
Houston did take 15 shots, two on target, but in a congested penalty area they never created a clean look.
“Those were three points that slipped out of our hands,” Giles Barnes said after the game. “We need to be more creative in the attacking third, we need to push forward more and take some chances. The game’s about who scores more goals at the end of the day, and we were lacking in that area. That’s three points disappeared because of a lack of concentration.”
The lack of attacking fortitude meant a strong defensive effort on the road, save for one critical sequence, would go to waste.
Obafemi Martins capped off a Ricardo Clark turnover late in the first half by turning Jermaine Taylor before putting the Sounders up. It was Houston’s third goal conceded in six games, but the way it was given highlighted a negative pattern.
“First and foremost, don’t give up soft goals,” replied head coach Owen Coyle when asked what needs to change. “We’ve conceded three goals this season and with all due respect, it’s not been due to a good passage of play from the opposing teams. Quality opposition can hurt you if you make key mistakes and we did that tonight. We’ll have to learn from that quickly.”
The loss drives home a few concerns regarding the Dynamo and showed a club that’s clearly working to put things together going forward. Whether it’s taking risk, going north-and-south or finding better passes, the Dynamo leave CenturyLink Field still needing to find the cure going forward.
“We’re a young team that needs to figure that out but now we are five games into the season and we feel like we have let some points slip here,” Davis said. “It’s tough, but it’s the same story. We have next week to try to turn it around.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.