HOUSTON – For the second week in a row the Houston Dynamo are left to consider how to plug the holes on the defensive side of the ball.
Houston duplicated their unenviable feat of giving up four goals last week, making it the first time in franchise history they’d given that many goals up in back-to-back games. After FC Dallas slashed his defense open at every turn, Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle took the blame for a 4-1 loss in the rivalry match on Friday and made it clear that what transpired is unacceptable.
“At this level of the game there is no way we can defend the way we did in this game,” Coyle said. “I think we’ve got to hold our hands up tonight and recognize that we didn’t do well enough individually and collectively. When all’s said and done, I’m the head coach and I’ll take responsibility for that. With the players we’ve got I think we can defend better than we did in the instances that we did.”
Dallas was precise in their ability to counterattack. With Dallas winger Fabian Castillo, who Coyle said has been one of the top two or three players in the league, leading the charge Houston were in effect rope-a-doped, allowed to have possession of the ball but punished for every misstep. There were a lot of defensive missteps as Houston was slow and consistently out of position when the ball turned over. That admittedly played into the speedy FC Dallas attackers' hands.
Coyle pointed to a lack smart defending and a propensity to make the game easy for the Dallas.
Meanwhile, Dynamo captain Brad Davis pointed to a lack of intensity on the pitch. At no time was that more evident than on Mauro Diaz’s goal, when he was allowed several touches at the top of Houston’s penalty area.
“I’m loathe to take any credit away from [Diaz] because it was a wonderful finish but my question was, I said to the players, he shouldn’t have been allowed to be in that position to have such a wonderful finish,” Coyle said. “If you’d asked me before the game I don’t think any of us would’ve foreseen so many defensive errors.”
Added Davis; “I think it’s a little bit of attitude, a little bit of grit. Little bit of playing, in my opinion, with a chip our shoulder, a little pissed off. We can’t be afraid to foul guys. This is a man’s game. It really is. It’s tough. The past two games we’ve let in eight goals. That’s unacceptable for us.”
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The two game output doubles Houston’s goal concessions in the first four games and has come as the team has moved away from employing a five-man midfield that past two games. Coyle was adamant the team can find the balance between attack and defending when asked. Their attempt at it Friday night, however, did not get the job done.
“I just think it was a lack of thinking. We weren’t very smart tonight,” said defender DaMarcus Beasley. “We were all over the place. We need to be more organized for teams that like to play football.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.