It was not three points, but the Houston Dynamo are choosing to look at Sunday’s glass of their 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers as half full.
After a several weeks, the club looked to be in better shape Sunday. The passes were crisper, the play sharper and—most importantly—the mistakes on both sides of the ball were kept to a minimum. For a team that’s now six games removed from their last win, they are taking the good and leaving whatever bad behind.
“I think we’re disappointed we don’t have three points from this match, but we did the right things today,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “We played correctly and moving forward that’s going to mean a successful season. It’s such a long season that doing the right thing will pay off.”
Some major differences seemed to come from the formation and players deployed. Getting captain Brad Davis back, who reported feeling good after the game to MLSsoccer.com, was a boost. He showed little rust after missing three games with a right ankle sprain and assisted on a perfectly-crafted goal for Will Bruin that was a lesson in crossing and finishing 101.
Also, there was a shift to the 4-3-3 that looked to have a say. Houston’s known as a traditional 4-4-2 team, but with a short roster due to injuries to Omar Cummings (hamstring), Tony Cascio (knee) and Ricardo Clark (concussion), Kinnear chose to mix things up and it paid off.
“The reason was a little bit of Wednesday’s result and a little bit of the players we had available to us,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said about switching formations. “Warren [Creavalle] hadn’t gone a full 90, Brad hadn’t gone a full 90, so you didn’t want to get overrun at midfield and make lanes for them to penetrate. You wanted to clog things up.”
Added Andrew Driver: “I think it worked really well today. Sometimes you need that, a little change, and I think we have a lot of quality players that can play a lot of formations. Dom felt it was the best one to go with today and it did work.”
The positives, which also included a guilt free performance from the defense, have Houston looking to a full week of preparation with a better mindset.
Was it the win they wanted? No. Were they able to put away the final chance that has eluded them the past six weeks? No. It was, however, a step they can take positively. After a week of internal soul searching and dealing with injuries, it’s a step they’ll take.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.