HOUSTON – Shutouts are a stat normally attributed to goalkeepers.
But as Tally Hall spoke about tying Pat Onstad’s Houston Dynamo single-season record – Hall earned his 11th shutout of the season against Real Salt Lake last Thursday – from 2007, he made it very clear: This is about much more than him.
The Dynamo ‘keeper took over for the legendary Onstad in 2011, and since then he has put his time and effort into syncing up with his backline. This season, that work has paid off as their joint efforts have meant zeros on the scoreboard for as many times as in any other Dynamo season.
“I’ve said it before, shutouts is such a team stat,” Hall told MLSsoccer.com. “I get a lot of credit for it but watching games, you can go back and when I have a good game it’s because the team in front of me had a good game.”
Hall’s second season as starting goalkeeper has unfolded much differently than his first thanks in large part to his cohesion with the defense.
In his inaugural season on the job, Hall often made acrobatic saves and was forced on several occasions to come up with multi-save performances to keep Houston in matches, especially early in 2011. But since September of last season, the Dynamo defense has tightened up and found a rhythm, and Hall’s efforts have turned to being in the right position and helping to organize the line in front of him rather than pulling off the spectacular saves.
While the spectacular has taken a back seat in 2012, Hall can still pull a few out of his bag of tricks evidenced by Thursday’s performance.
“He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win it,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said about the record-tying shutout. “I definitely think shutouts are a team thing but the goalkeeper gets the mention because he’s the one in goal and on Thursday Tally had a big hand in not getting scored on.”
Thursday’s shutout of RSL showed just how big Hall can be in Houston’s defense.
“Tally’s a big part of the defense and obviously he’s the last line and has come up with some huge saves,” left back Corey Ashe said. “He, alongside Bobby [Boswell], is kinda in charge of organizing guys and they’ve done a great job of that. Keeping the back line honest, focused and talking for 90 minutes.”
With 11 shutouts in the books, Hall and Ashe joked about who deserves credit. But when the laughs stopped the goalkeeper and left back were quick to heap praise on each other for a mark that shows how good the Dynamo defense can be.
“It’s fun looking back at the times, especially after a shutout and the first thing we do, all the defenders; is come together because it’s special for us,” Hall said with a smile. “We’ve got six games ahead of us and I’m thinking let’s get six more shutouts, six more wins.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.