Houston Dynamo lament lack of "mental sharpness" as they search for elusive complete performance

Not that they needed it, but the Houston Dynamo got a reminder of what can happen if you switch off against good teams.

Carrying a 2-0 lead out of halftime Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Columbus Crew struck with a pair of goals in eight minutes. Neither playoff contender was able to pull ahead in the final 35 minutes and ultimately shared the spoils.

For the home team, it was a mental lapse that cost them two points and a chance to keeping closing the gap in the playoff chase.

“I don’t think that mental sharpness was there,” said forward Omar Cummings. “Just knowing they’re going to come out and we need to be ready for it. I don’t think the sharpness was there mentally to get tuned in and be like, ‘They’re going to come at us, and we need to be ready.’"

Veteran defender DaMarcus Beasley kept things in the perspective.

“It’s difficult to go up two goals and tie the game, but at the same time we got a point,” he said. “It’s a home game and we wanted to get three points but we got a point and that point might be a very vital point coming down to the last few games of the season.”

Curing their consistency problem has been a season-long issue, however, and the club has continually talked about putting complete games together.

Their 3-1 win at Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 29, for example, was a complete performance that provided a jolt to the team’s momentum. They haven’t lost since.

“I think it comes down more so to concentrating for 90 minutes,” Beasley said. “We’ve lacked that sometimes. Right now we’re only playing 75, and those other 15 minutes those teams are coming at us and push to get their win because we’re playing East Coast teams and we’re all trying to make the playoffs.”

There were positives to take from the game. The club created 10 chances in a first half that saw them play as well as they have in the attack all season. The interplay and work were good and the production was two goals.

“I prefer to look at the first half,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “I thought we moved the ball better, and defensively we were in better shape.”

That play is what has the club positive about their chances. While the attack was on point again, and has been since the end of the World Cup break, the missing ingredient for Houston is still putting a full 90 minutes together.

“Concentrating for 90 minutes that’s something we can improve on and make better for the last seven games,” Beasley said.

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.