CARSON, Cailf – One of the keys to the Houston Dynamo’s run to the MLS Cup final has been their ability to take the game to their opponent. Home or away, in minute one or 90, the Dynamo have been able to gain a grip on the pace of the game and dictate how it was played.
In Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the final, that was not the case.
“We were a little bit slow, but we were getting it forward,” Houston head man Dominic Kinnear said in the postgame press conference. “We just weren’t clearing our lines fast enough for me.”
Consistently worried about battling a tactically precise Galaxy attack — led by a surgical midfield and opportunistic frontline — Houston found it difficult to commit to the attack.
“We had one or two good balls in the box,” Kinnear said. “I did think we played a little bit better in the second half than we did in the first, but you still need to score a goal. When we got into those good areas, our delivery was off to not put them under pressure.
“In that sense, we kind of let them off the hook. You want to put good pressure on them so you kind of pin them in a little bit. It took one goal to win it, which sometimes that’s what finals are all about.”
The one-goal defeat is exacerbated by Houston being unable to create and capitalize on their best weapon: Set pieces, which were few and far between for the Dynamo.
“Even on the set pieces we had we were just off,” Kinnear said. “It wasn’t one particular person. You have a corner kick or free kick, you want to put them under pressure and I don’t think we did that enough tonight.”
In a postseason where they had come up with big performances and found ways to conjure crucial plays, Houston found themselves a beat slow on Sunday night and ultimately on the wrong end of the scoreline after 90 minutes.
“They created more opportunities to score than we did and they scored a very good goal,” Kinnear said. “And they defended well. I think our effort was there but sometimes you don’t play the way you want to play.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com