Brad Davis thought he'd pumped life back into the Houston Dynamo’s chances.
Down 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls and needing a result to keep their playoff hopes alive, Davis took a touch just outside the New York penalty box and laced a shot towards the corner of goalkeeper Luis Robles' net.
Unfortunately for Davis and his club, the ball took a deflection off teammate Boniek García at the penalty spot and flew over the goal. Fourteen minutes later the Dynamo walked off the field, a 1-0 loss dealing a body blow to their postseason aspirations as they fell eight points back of New York in the race for the MLS Eastern Conference's fifth and final playoff spot.
“It was one of those ones that came off my foot absolutely perfect,” Davis said of his late attempt. “As soon as I saw it was going right for the corner and I don’t think Robles would’ve had a chance. Sure enough, our own guy deflects it.
“All you can do is keep trying, keep pushing and we did that.”
That was the type of night it was for Davis and the Dynamo.
Entering the night five back of the Red Bulls in the playoff race, a victory would have pumped more life into a good bid to make an eighth postseason in nine years. Instead, Houston suffered from spells of inconsistent offense that left them open to one hiccup costing them the night.
The visitors struggled in the attack throughout the night. Early on they failed to get a consistent handle on the ball, and later they fell behind to a Thierry Henry goal just after halftime and found themselves unable to break down an organized Red Bull defense content to see out a needed win.
“Unfortunately we didn’t come out of the gates well,” Davis said. “I feel like we’ve allowed too many goals, or at least too many good chances right out of the locker room. That’s definitely something we would like to do better at. Tonight it’s the difference in the game.”
The Dynamo responded after Henry’s goal. The game was played nearly exclusively in their attacking end in the final 20 minutes and they even went up a man for the final stages when Tim Cahill saw red late for a tackle on García in the 88th minute.
“At that point in the game we were all on top of them and in their half anyways,” Davis said. “You see the ejection happen and, yeah, you’d like to take advantage of it. I don’t know if it necessarily changed the way we were doing anything because we were playing well before that happened.”
When asked about the late surge, head coach Dominic Kinnear chalked it up to “just an attitude change.”
“I think we were chasing the game a little bit,” he added, “pushing more guys forward and just had better possession and better movement.”
Still, there was no goal to be had. The loss leaves Houston’s playoff chances in limbo. They now trail the Red Bulls by eight points with just four games to play.
While not mathematically out, Henry’s goal – plus their own inability to find the final touch at the other end – leaves the Dynamo no room for error in the final month of the season.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.