Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Houston Dynamo want to test opponents' defense: "We can't just go into a shell"

The Houston Dynamo have been at their best this season when pushing forward. With Brad Davis leading the charge, the club’s been most dangerous taking the game to the opposing defense.

In the last two games, that has not been happening and with that no goals have been scored. As Houston heads forward, the plan is getting out of their shell and get back to attacking.

“Step out, we’re sitting too far back defensively,” said forward Will Bruin when asked about creating good chances. “We need to step out and take chances going forward. You can’t win games if you just play defensive. I think we’re sitting too much and just trying to counter and that’s not going to win us games.”

Sunday’s road loss to the San Jose Earthquakes is a good example of Bruin’s point. Houston conceded on an indirect free kick that was brought on when goalkeeper Tally Hall caught a back pass from David Horst.

“I thought we were the much better team the first 30 minutes and then stupid mistakes,” Bruin said. “We can’t just go into a shell on the road and hope to keep them off the score sheet.”

Before that goal the Dynamo were going forward and created three good chances that were repelled by good saves from Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch. After the concession, the means of attack looked more likely on the counter instead of pushing forward and taking the game to San Jose.

“Possession all over the field gives the opportunity for guys to get forward and if you’re not possessing the ball and losing it, it kind of pins you in,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We were playing pretty well, made some chances but obviously Jon Busch made some good saves … I thought in the second half we got away from being able to get those guys in the right spots.”

Not having Davis, Boniek García and Ricardo Clark can hurt this cause. In their place Sunday was Servando Carrasco and Warren Creavalle. While the two players got forward at times—Creavalle timed a run to the back post for an open header that was saved in the first half—they are known to sit deeper on the field and pick their runs instead of staying forward.

According to Carrasco, getting out of that shell and getting forward is something he and his central midfield partner can focus on.

“We should be an outlet for them,” Carrasco said. “One of Will’s strengths and one of Giles [Barnes]' strengths is their ability to hold the ball. If they do that they’ll need some type of outlet and that falls on our shoulders. If they can release pressure and play us back then we can release wide, and we know we’re a very dangerous team when we get the ball wide.”

Getting those players forward in more attacking positions is one way to yield more chances—something the club currently leads the league in—but hopefully ones that are in favorable positions that lead to goals.

“At the end of the day goals define games,” Carrasco said. “Again, I think if we finish our chances we put ourselves in a position to win games and dictate the tempo as well.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.