HOUSTON – Tally Hall has seen his share of success as a starting goalkeeper. Taking over for Houston Dynamo legend Pat Onstad in 2011, the ‘keeper is used to late season runs and ending campaigns in championship games, MLS or conference.
But this season has been a shock to that custom.
Hall has backstopped a struggling defense and has been left time and again with his hands on his hips wondering where things went wrong. As he and the Dynamo embark on the final 10 games of their season with hopes to extend it, it’s the first time the 29-year-old has seen the way the other side of MLS lives.
“I think so,” Hall told MLSsoccer.com when asked if this was his toughest season. “As a goalkeeper I feel like I wasn’t making as many saves as I should. Even on goals where no one looks at me I just wish I could’ve bailed the team out and that hasn’t been the case this year.”
In Hall’s first three seasons he helped the Dynamo to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances and a run to the Eastern Conference Championship. Along the way he’s spent time in US national team camp and has two All-Star selections under his belt.
This season, his stats show the club’s given up more goals (43) in the 23 games he's appeared in than in the any of his three seasons as a starter. When things have gone well, they’ve sparkled, as Hall is one of five ‘keepers in MLS with seven shutouts to his name. But those highs haven't come as regularly in 2014 as in seasons past.
It’s a frustrating turn for Hall as he’s struggled to put his finger on the problems.
“It’s like when the team’s struggling you hope you can turn it up and hope you can make a couple of more saves but that hasn’t happened as much as I would’ve wished or wanted,” Hall said. “It’s almost like there’s been too many times where I look at it and I don’t know what to do and that’s been very frustrating. There’s times where you’re questioning and there’s no immediate answer. That’s been difficult.”
Hall’s sentiments are shared by the team in front of him – a team that certainly has the talent to win games regularly but has quite simply struggled. With those struggles have come questions of play and the club's confidence.
“All of us have had some hard luck to be totally honest,” said team captain Brad Davis. “I think it just comes down to a confidence thing when things aren’t going well. I never doubt his mentality. Everybody’s got confidence in the guy and there’s no question with what him or Tyler [Deric] can do back there. It’s not just Tally having that type of year but everyone’s having it.”
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As things have gone wrong, Hall remains optimistic.
He told MLSsoccer.com that he still believes his club will be playing late into the season. What prompts the uplifting outlook? For him it’s the way the club has played the past month. Even with last week's 3-0 loss to the Columbus Crew, Hall pointed to clear mistakes the club can correct.
“It’s kind of weird. Looking at this week from Columbus I feel like we have some answers and there were definitely times this season where it didn’t feel like that,” Hall said. “We’re definitely looking at this game and we have a pretty good understanding. It’s good to have a tangible thing to do better with which wasn’t always the case this year.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.