Sunday afternoon did not go the way the Houston Dynamo envisioned it.
Heading into the match at Philadelphia the Dynamo were looking to put some distance between themselves and the other teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race. By the time the final whistle had sounded, however, self-inflicted wounds had made for a 3-1 loss that has Houston hanging onto fifth spot in the East by a single point.
“It was just not good enough,” forward Will Bruin told MLSsoccer.com. “These are very important games and we didn’t rise to the occasion and turn it around.”
From the start the Dynamo struggled to threaten the Union, who have conceded the third fewest goals in MLS this season. A main culprit for the struggles was the inability to connect passes and break pressure.
“The passing wasn’t good and on the road you need to keep the ball,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “To lose possession as much as we did it puts you under pressure. It was an opportunity missed for us to close the gap on some teams and pull away from others … We just couldn’t get on track.”
Philadelphia were glad to take the help as the Union had their counter-attack game working, seemingly breaking on goal and looking to punish Houston on every misstep.
“They played just like we thought they would, the scouting report was right on,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “They’re a team with a lot of energy and that’s what they wait for, they wait for a mistake and today we made too many and we were punished for it.”
That meant multiple breakaways in the first half, one of which led to the first goal, and a pair of mistakes on the other side of halftime for the second and third.
After the match the players made it clear that they knew performances like Sunday’s would spell an early end to the season.
“We’re still in a situation where where we go is up to us, but it’s a matter of coming out, being professional and being men and stepping up our game,” Hall said. “Anymore outings like today and we’ll find ourselves out of the playoffs.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.