Goals come and go, but one thing the Houston Dynamo believe they can control is being stingy in the back.
During the past three games, all losses, that has escaped them.
Houston are a team battling injuries everywhere but the backline, yet have conceded eight goals in their past three contests after a 3-0 loss Sunday to the Colorado Rapids. While they have not scored any in that span, the defense feels that regardless of what happens in front of them they should keep things in line.
“There aren’t any defenders missing. Tally [Hall’s] here, Kofi [Sarkodie’s] here, Corey [Ashe’s] here, I’m here, and we’re not playing the way we should be,” center back David Horst told MLSsoccer.com over the phone. “It doesn’t matter at the end of the day that we’re not getting goals, we’re not having possession. The defense has to show up every single game and we haven’t. I’ll raise my hand and say, ‘Hey, our fault and we haven’t played the way we should.’
“We need to pick up our game in the back, and once that happens the rest of the team will start picking up their games and we’ll start rolling again.”
Getting and keeping good play in defense has been a tough task this season. Their defensive numbers tell a perplexing tale, with the Dynamo having conceded the most goals in MLS (27) while being tied for the second-most shutouts (five).
Part of that is the high amount of games they’ve played (15) compared to other teams, but it shows that when the club’s backline is in lock step they can be very good. When they are not, the results have been very bad.
Fixing the issues comes down to a number of factors, but for Horst it's about getting the communication down.
“I think part of it is that we’re getting really unlucky in some areas of the game and we can’t control that part,” he said. “The part of it we can control is the communication on the field, and I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say it hasn’t been the best coming from the back.
“Over the past couple of games I think that’s been a problem for us. Right now, communication-wise from the back to the midfield and midfield to the forwards hasn’t been what it should be.”
Not having that cohesion on the field from back to front flies in the face of Houston’s team-defense philosophy. When asked if a player needs to take the reins both Horst and Hall reiterated that it needs to be a team effort to get things back on track.
“We had a team talk … and it’s focus, it’s the simple things that we’ve heard the coaching staff drill into our heads and need to follow through on,” Hall told MLssoccer.com. “We’re better than how we’re playing, and we’re letting teams be better than us. We’re letting teams succeed and to fix it we have to do all the things we’ve been saying the past little bit. … It’s our job and we need to step up.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.