The Houston Dynamo will be happy to flip the calendar to July as June has been a nightmare that was punctuated with Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.
As the last two weeks have unfolded, the Dynamo have struggled to score. Against a team in a similar position — New York lost the three games leading up to Sunday's match — Houston hoped to break out. Instead, they found the same struggles tripping them as their winless streak extended to seven games.
“Frustrating,” Will Bruin told media after the game. “I don’t really know how to sum it up, it’s just a gut check, character check. Luckily it’s the end of June and not October, but we know how much we’ve been struggling.”
Throughout the first 60 minutes, Houston were playing RBNY even and had their share of chances (11) and splitting the possession evenly with the hosts. That share of possession could be what’s holding them back, however.
“I think we’re too content just holding the ball and keeping possession,” Bruin said. “When you’re in the final third, you’ve got to be aggressive and have that killer instinct to score, and I think we’re lacking that right now. But once it comes back, I think it’s going to come along.”
Whether it’s the killer instinct or a lack of aggression, Houston’s inability to notch a goal early put them behind the eight all when Fabián Espíndola slotted home New York’s first real chance in the game with his 60th-minute go-ahead goal.
Without a goal to fall back on, Houston were forced to once again chase the game. Not only were they unable to score an equalizer, the push forward opened them up for their second conceded goal when Jonny Steele roofed an 88th-minute insurance goal.
In fairness, Houston were without two of their top servicemen in Boniek García and Brad Davis. After the game, head coach Dominic Kinnear chose to focus on who was on the field.
“I don’t like to talk about players that aren’t here because it shows disrespect to the ones that are here," he said, "so even though we’d like Brad to be here, it’s unfair to talk about him."
Even without Davis and García, Houston had their chances Sunday. Whether it was a missed ball or shot off the mark, Houston simply weren't able to make them count.
“It’s just that final bit at the moment,” said Giles Barnes. “It’s just making that 95 percent into 100 percent ... that last final pass, or staying with you runners on the opposition as well, it’s just the little things that we need to tighten up all over the pitch and we know that and we’re trying to remedy that.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.