One of the main themes of Houston Dynamo trainings is the importance of putting opposing goalkeepers under pressure. Last week against the New England Revolution, the club failed to do that, putting zero shots on goal.
As they move forward to a pair of Northeast road battles vs. the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (3 p.m. CT, CSN Plu) and the New York Red Bulls on April 23, they are looking to rediscover that shooting touch.
The easiest way to do that is simple, according to forward Giles Barnes.
“Shoot,” the Englishman told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “That’s what we’ve got to do: start shooting. I think we’re overdoing it in some areas instead of shooting. That’s just the confidence everyone has in each other to let each have the ball, but we’ve got to get more shots off.
“We know that our passing’s got to be a little bit crisper and we’ve got to get it right.”
Houston has never been a club to get overly concerned with goal droughts. The Orange, especially head coach Dominic Kinnear, take a very level-headed approach to things, knowing that ebbs and flows happen in soccer – and even more so where goals are concerned. The alarm bells do not start going off until the club fails to create chances.
This past Saturday's 2-0 loss in New England could have triggered those bells. Not only did the Dynamo fail to get a shot on goal, they generated just nine shots total on the day.
That type of meager output is tough to overcome.
It's tempting to criticize forwards for not scoring. However, digging further into the issues, many of their problems came out of a failure to string together passes and build attacks. Without service – which was hurt by the absence of playmaker Brad Davis thanks to an ankle injury – shots and goals are usually hard to come by.
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“These guys are trying to score. I just don’t know that we had any good looks at goal,” Kinnear said. “We just weren’t connecting passes in order to go up the field as a unit. Finishing is always about making the goalkeeper work or putting a shot on target and that never goes away. We always want to stress that… but when you don’t have enough opportunities to be able to do that, it does take away from it.”
Don't expect Kinnear to make drastic changes. That is not the veteran coach’s way.
However, digging in and getting back to what works, testing the ‘keeper as much as possible, could end what the Dynamo hope will be a short-lived goal drought.
“We try to drill it into each other every day and Dom’s helping us with it,” Barnes said. “If you’ve got the ball at the top of the box, we’re saying shoot. We’re not a team of people that’s going to shout at someone for taking a shot, we’re encouraging it. It’s not anyone being greedy, that’s their job and we know it is.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.