HOUSTON – It has been as worse a defensive stretch as any in Houston Dynamo history. Nineteen goals conceded in seven games is a run they've only seen in their 2010 season, the only year they missed the playoffs.
As the introspection continues into a bad season defensively, the club is looking for what the culprits are regarding its leaky defense.
“We just made mistakes. We made individual mistakes and team mistakes and those lead to goals,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear when asked about the 4-2 loss to Toronto FC Saturday. “We’re disappointed, angry, frustrated …
"The season’s not over. There’s still tons of points to go … We’ve talked about it, we’ve pointed it out and hopefully as we move forward here we can prevent what’s going on.”
One aspect that stands out about the defensive woes is the search for balance between attack and defense. Without Brad Davis in the lineup this season, the Dynamo were inept in the attack, scoring just once in his absence.
Davis is back now and on a hot streak, having assisted on or scored a goal in of his last eight MLS games, and is playing some of the best soccer of his career. However, the club is still pushing numbers forward. While it helps in the attack, it can leave the defense in bad positions.
“It’s enticing to be a part of the attack,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “I think we’re getting caught up trying to support an attack that, especially with the way Will [Bruin] and Giles [Barnes] can play, that we don’t need to send eight or nine guys up to attack.
“The breakdowns come from us trying to support in attack. Then when the ball turns over they’re running at our goal and our players have to turn around and track back and it’s going to be difficult to recover. We need to make sure we don’t put ourselves in that spot.”
A prime example of this was on Dominic Oduro's goal Saturday versus Toronto FC. Fill-in left back Warren Creavalle ventured forward in the closing moments of the first half when the club had a 2-1 lead. Oduro hit the vacated space and punished Houston.
Another topic that came up was the idea of emergency defending.
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Whether from a lack of pressure, poor shape or quality runs from opponents, the Dynamo find themselves turning and running at their own goal on occasion. A bad sign in soccer, and it has put the entire defense in a bad position.
Now the important part is to fix it. Houston have never been a club to hit the panic button and it seems that is still the case. But with the season in the balance while still having a long way to go, the time to make playoff-affecting changes is certainly approaching.
“We’ve just got to be a little more focused both when the ball turns over and when we’re in our positions doing well in one-v-one defending,” said right back Kofi Sarkodie. “I think the balance has to come from within the team. Us communicating with each other, letting guys know when we can stay or hold. Those are things we’ve just got to continue to do better on.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.