In 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, Houston Dynamo turn in long-missing defensive performance

HOUSTON – According to the Houston Dynamo there were signs of life for their embattled defense Saturday night.

Facing English Premier League club Aston Villa in the BBVA Compass Charities Cup, the Dynamo had a tall task. And while it was not perfect, Houston kept the Villans in front of them for the balance of the evening holding them to just eight shots and only two on goal in a 1-0 loss. For a team that’s given up 21 goals during an eight-game winless streak it’s a step in the right direction.

“Starting that game as far as the defensive shape we’ve been talking about letting us down lately here in our regular season, I thought was overall pretty darn good,” said Dynamo captain Brad Davis.

“I think the players came out and really played well against a club from England that’s perceived to be a higher level,” midfielder Boniek Garcia said through a translator. “The guys did well, the goal was unfortunate, but overall it was better than it’s been.”

Villa were never able to break through Houston’s defense and were forced into shots from distance to test Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Given the Dynamo's horrific run of defending in MLS play -- 21 goals conceded in a current eight-game winless streak -- it’s a positive for a team that sits in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and has conceded a league-high 40 goals on the season.

“It’s been over two months since we last won so there’s a lot of pressure and it is personal because we’re not used to that sort of thing,” Garcia said. “It is unfortunate that sometimes while some areas of the team respond -- like the attack -- that the defense doesn’t respond as much. It’s really up to us to be consistent and keep our heads down and make sure we get out of this hole.”

There were a defensive woes on the night, namely, the goal. After playing the game on an even-level for the first 30 minutes, the visitors started to apply pressure close to the halftime whistle, and the Dynamo capitulated too easily. On a redirected cross, Joe Bennett was given enough space just inside the 6-yard box to finish the goal despite being flanked by two Dynamo players on either side.

The goal proved to be the difference.

“We let a set piece in again which is something that we need to work on -- being tight in the box," Davis said. "But overall we did some good things and I thought we defended pretty well For us it was definitely a positive game to build off.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.