Goal-shy Houston focus on another tough road game
HOUSTON – Looking at the standings, the most important number for the Houston Dynamo is the "2" in the win column. Delving into the statistics, however, the same number pops up, but this time it is one the club would like to change: just two goals scored.
Those wins show that the Dynamo are winning with a formula based on playing stingy defense and grinding out results. It's not an unusual combination in Houston, and it's good enough – for now.
“Defensively we’re getting shutouts and that’s fantastic, but as far as game sharpness we can improve everywhere,” captain Brian Ching told reporters at training this week. “We haven’t scored a lot of goals but we’ve done enough to win, and winning on the road is the most important thing. Yeah I think we need to do better in the final third as a team.”
While the goals aren't flooding the scoreboard, it's not for lack of trying. Houston are tied for fifth in MLS in shots (26) and third in shots on goal (12).
But between Chivas USA ‘keeper Dan Kennedy pulling out big save after big save in Week 1, and posts and crossbars getting in the way in Week 2, Houston’s attackers can’t seem to find that clinical touch to put the ball in the back of the net from the run of play.
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“We’ve been creating chances, personally I’ve had some good opportunities and just haven’t found the back of the net, but at least we’re creating chances,” said striker Will Bruin, who has come close on several occasions in the first two weeks.
That knack for finding chances is just one aspect Dynamo boss Dominic Kinnear looks for in his attackers. Their work ethic off the ball and ability to put pressure on the defense by creating chances prompted Kinnear to reaffirm his confidence in Bruin and Ching as starters for Saturday’s 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
“[Against Chivas USA] we created tons of chances so I wanted the same two again and that was the reason why,” Kinnear told the media after the win. “They both played well and created chances so there’s no reason to change it.”
So Kinnear and the Dynamo attackers are not panicking after being goal shy in their opening encounters. Instead they are focusing on the wins, which is the most important stat to have on their side.
“Right now, [our shots] are not going in but we’ve managed to get the wins on the road which is huge,” Bruin said. “It’s a long season. We’ll find some goals eventually.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston for MLSsoccer.com