Houston Dynamo defenders kicking themselves after squandering another lead in Toronto FC draw

HOUSTON – For the third week in a row, the Houston Dynamo attack supplied the club with two goals. But for the third week in a row, it was not enough to get the full reward.

After forwards Will Bruin and Giles Barnes gave the club separate one-goal leads Saturday night against Toronto FC, the Houston defense failed make them stand up. TFC equalized both times, with the last goal coming a minute before the halftime whistle, forcing the Dynamo to settle for a 2-2 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium.

While there are plenty of talking points as to the why, the fact is that a strong offensive output was not enough. And it’s rubbing an exposed nerve for the defense.

“The way I look at it is I think defensively we let the team down,” left back Corey Ashe said in his postgame comments. “We’re not defending properly and we’re giving up soft goals. We keep saying the same thing game in and game out, but it’s really frustrating.

“You can dominate the game all you want, but if they’re continuing to score, it doesn’t mean anything.”

The goals conceded were cut from the same cloth as the issues that have plagued them all season – including most recently in a 4-2 loss against the same team last weekend that saw Houston squander a 2-0 lead. On the first goal Saturday, TFC’s Gilberto was given enough space inside the 18-yard box to take a touch and tee up a shot.

On the second goal, it was déjà vu as Luke Moore beat AJ Cochran to the end line and sent a cross by goalkeeper Tally Hall for Dominic Oduro to chest over the line just before the halftime whistle.

“Just not being tuned in mentally,” center back David Horst said when asked about the issues at the end of the first half. “It’s the last five minutes of the half and guys are looking forward to getting in the locker room and some guys tune off and they score a goal.”

Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said it’s not for a lack of preparation.

“It is frustrating when you think about it because we’ve talked about it enough,” said Kinnear. “You would like to see the results of your conversations and pointing out mistakes and, ‘OK, we need to do this and we need to do that.’ That’s the frustrating part because we are identifying it, but we’re not correcting it enough.”

Making matters worse was that the attack was again clicking. Houston took 15 shots, seven on goal, and provided chances early and late.

While the players say there’s no finger pointing, the defense is certainly taking the result to heart.

“When you’re scoring goals, one goal’s enough to win a game and we want that to be the case,” said Hall, who made three saves on the night. “That’s what the best teams are able to do and we want to reward the players for scoring by giving them a game winner. We need to start rewarding the players in the attack when they step up.

“[The draw’s] a positive, but it’s a game we should win.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.