The Houston Dynamo were looking for positives before heading into the offseason. All they got out of their regular-season finale was a rough end.
Despite moments of good play, Houston were inundated in the second half as the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs-bound Vancouver Whitecaps served up a 3-0 defeat. Houston fell prey to the usual list of culprits: poor marking at an inopportune time, unfortunate deflections, and a lack of chances on the road.
“I think it was self-inflicted. There was not one of those goals that wasn’t avoidable,” said head coach Owen Coyle. “There’s nothing I seen today that we’re not aware as the season’s progressed and that’s something we need to do better. We need to do better on the road because the home record … has been decent but it’s certainly not good enough to come away and win two games on the road in 17 games.”
Houston looked to rebound after an extremely shaky start that saw fill-in goalkeeper Joe Willis make three big plays to deny the Whitecaps in the first 15 minutes. After the early scares, Houston settled down and held their own before going into the break even at zeros.
The difference in the second half was Vancouver’s ability to strike quickly.
Once Kekuta Manneh got the Whitecaps' attack going on a 59th-minute goal that saw him face little to no pressure from distance, the game went downhill for the Dynamo.
“Maybe we need to take a little bit of softness out of us when we go a goal down,” Giles Barnes told the Vancouver media. “I’d like to see us come out swinging a little bit more. The young players that have come in this year have done really well. The club has a lot to look forward to in the future.”
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Houston’s immediate response was positive with Erick Torres creating a chance, possibly his best in a goal-less stint in MLS play this season, but afterwards it was Vancouver in control. Kendall Waston banked a header off Will Bruin, and Robert Earnshaw added a late killer to send Houston into the offseason on a down note.
With a rebuilding season officially in their rearview mirror, the Dynamo will have decisions to make in the coming months on how to build a playoff team in Coyle’s image. Houston have to figure out what direction their roster will go in, as a number of key contributors are out of contract and questions remain on both sides of the field.
“We’ve looked at ourselves extensively over the course of the season, we need to get better, it’s as simple as that,” Coyle said. “We certainly know how to do that and what we need to do to implement those changes. That’s what we need to do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.