Murphy’s Law posits that anything that can go wrong will. Wednesday night the Houston Dynamo put 90 minutes of proof of that adage.
Houston’s defense was cut apart in a 4-0 loss to a New York Red Bulls team that suddenly looks like the Supporters’ Shield-winning outfit from 2013. On the other end, the Dynamo’s attack simply could not relieve any pressure, hitting everything besides the back of the net.
“Coming out right from the kickoff and then we had a couple more chances after that,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told the media. “We weren’t sharp in front of goal and we weren’t sharp defending. Those are two areas that definitely let us down tonight … It just wasn’t a good night for us.”
Houston’s loss showed much of the troubles that have been plaguing the team. The Dynamo had chances early and often – 20 total – but nobody in orange could find their range. Will Bruin, Giles Barnes, Andrew Driver and Ricardo Clark, who left the game early with an injury, all had looks to get Houston the board and in every occasion were off the mark.
“We had chances,” Kinnear said. “Teams are not going to jump out of the way and let us score. It’s difficult to do. Sometimes they come in bunches like they were at the beginning of the season, sometimes they’re hard to come by. We had [enough] chances tonight that I think we were good for a goal.”
Not alone in the blame, Houston’s struggling attack was matched by an overmatched defense.
They were left chasing on many occasions as Thierry Henry and Lloyd Sam orchestrated while Bradley Wright-Phillips used his speed and precise runs to open up seams.
“Defensively if we shore up and do a good job it makes it easier for everyone else on the field,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “It’s too easy to look forward and say I wish you guys would’ve scored five goals, of course, but you can’t just give away goals. It makes it too easy for another team to sit in and control the game.”
To make matters worse, Houston ended the game without standouts Clark, Brad Davis – who missed his third game in a row with a sprained right ankle – and Kofi Sarkodie on the field, the latter due to a suspension.
With everything going wrong, Houston leaves New Jersey winless in five, scoreless in three and desperately looking for any kind of spark.
“Winning fixes everything,” Hall said. “It’s important to go home, Portland on Sunday, because if you get a win all the feelings we have right now evaporate instantly. Then you go build off that so the game against Portland at home is an opportunity that we can’t let slip away.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.