Dynamo defense feeling tough again after lineup shuffle

Hunter Freeman and Bobby Boswell

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HOUSTON — A week after a tough 3-0 loss to Chivas USA, the Houston Dynamo defense bounced back with a strong performance against the Seattle Sounders last weekend.

Facing one of the toughest and most dangerous attacking clubs in the league, the Dynamo employed a game plan centered on shutting down space for Seattle all over the field. From the opening whistle, Houston showed hustle and energy while moving around the pitch and limiting Seattle’s chances.

“They had some decent looks, but when you throw Adam Moffat in there we won a lot of first and second balls,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “As a group we just pressured them all over the field better than we’ve done.”

The outcome of their increased effort was limiting Seattle to four shots on goal and holding the Sounders to an Álvaro Fernández penalty kick as their lone tally on the night.

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“I think we were kind of fed up with how the mood was,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “It was enough talk, and we felt like we needed to just go out and win. We had the mentality that we needed to start being tougher on the field and in practice. Everyone just wanted to get it done.”

That team mentality was on display Saturday. Kinnear shuffled the lineup again, reinserting Boswell and right back Hunter Freeman into the starting lineup for the first time since June 18.

“We just felt it was time for another change, and I think they did well,” Kinnear said. “Bobby did well. He’s a good communicator and he won some good balls in the air and was good on set pieces. Hunter’s a good passer of the ball.”

With the back line set with six solid contributors — including Andre Hainault, Corey Ashe, Kofi Sarkodie and Jermaine Taylor, along with Boswell and Freeman — the trick now is carrying over their success from Saturday night into the future. With injuries to Will Bruin and Danny Cruz hitting the club’s attacking core, the continued ascension of the defense is necessary for the Dynamo if they are to make a run to the playoffs.

“It’s tough to keep it going, but it has to be done,” Boswell said. “Dom’s moving guys around, but it’s not about that but more about the mentality as whole. If guys come out this week and think we’re hot stuff because we won a game against a good team it’s not going to work. We need to keep going and pushing ourselves to do the right things.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.