The Houston Dynamo knew that to be successful in Montreal they would have to match the Impact’s energy out of the gate. After 32 minutes, it was clear that the Dynamo had failed to accomplish that goal.
In their first MLS game in 18 days, the Dynamo were put on the back foot as Felipe and Marco Di Vaio turned respective sharp passing and pressure into a 2-0 lead that the Impact ultimately made stand at Stade Saputo.
After the game, the reason for the slow start was tough to come by for Houston. However, the understanding was there that it’s something that has to stop as the Dynamo have suffered from several slow starts this season.
OPTA Chalkboard: Houston improve in second half but slow start proves too costly
“It’s tough to put your finger on why they were able to come out and outplay us in the first 20 minutes,” goalkeeper Tally Hall, who made five of his eight saves inside the first 32 minutes, told MLSsoccer.com. “We want to win and that has to be the attitude for 90 minutes. For the majority of the game I thought we had the right attitude but the start of the game killed us and we weren’t able to come out from that deficit.”
What put the Dynamo behind the eight ball was a vigorous Impact attack that was clicking from the first kick. Knocking the ball around and stretching the Dynamo defense, the Impact were able to parlay that work into space and ultimately success when Felipe finshed off a pinpoint Patrice Bernier pass in the 14th minute to make it 1-0.
Houston looked to be gaining traction but a missed penalty kick in the 21st-minute by Giles Barnes, which would’ve pulled the Dynamo level at 1-1, took the wind out of their sails. If that wasn’t enough, Di Vaio’s 32nd-minute goal was a killer, as he pounced on an errant Corey Ashe back pass with a chipped shot to provide the winning 2-0 score line.
“It’s a bit of a blow,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said of that sequence of events. “Obviously that comes off a corner kick and they take advantage of an opportunity. I thought we had some good chances the first half and second half but we just couldn’t score a goal tonight.”
Houston responded to the deficit well. After the poor start, the Dynamo started to possess the ball, ending with 57%, and generated chances.
Unfortunately for the visitors, their best chances were off the mark as Montreal stayed compact and defended well for the balance of the last hour. The slow start proved too much to overcome.
“The goal’s to make it to the playoffs and win a championship,” Hall said. “We’re not going to go win an MLS Cup if we continue to start games like that.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.