HOUSTON – Sometimes all it takes it seeing the ball hit the back of the net to jar a team out of a funk.
They went on to score another in what would be a 2-2 draw, but in the process of the game the Dynamo attack seemed to find its way again. With a full complement of attackers in their rightful places, the ball was moving around quickly, the shots were coming and with it a semblance of confidence and fight the club had sorely missed as they struggled to generate consistent output this season.
“Getting guys back and guys playing in their normal positions where I think they help us the most,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “For the most part the six going forward were in comfortable positions and that helps.”
Getting players back in a position to succeed is something Kinnear struggled to do in earnest over the past two months. Injuries and absences has forced him to dress less than a full bench and kept him from fielding players where they are best suited as he scrambled to plug leaks in the lineup.
The improvement showed.
It showed in no player more than Barnes, who after being forced to play in the midfield, was finally back up top alongside Will Bruin.
“It was nice to be back up top. Will and I have a nice partnership with each other,” said Barnes.
The striker made an immediate impact on what he said was the fastest goal he’s ever scored, thanks to the service starting with Clark.
“I think [having players back] frees up other places,” Barnes said. “Brad coming back in you get service. [Boniek] coming back in you’ve got service. ‘Rico in there and you’ve got an engine. Its people playing in their right positions, it makes a big difference for any team.”
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The impassioned celebration after Barnes’ goal to end their goal-scoring drought that stretched back to mid-May exemplified just how much frustration had been building. Now the trick is to bottle that up and move forward.
But therein lies the problem. The Dynamo have not scored multiple goals in back-to-back games this season.
But with stars back in the lineup and players set up to succeed, the club is at least hoping things are finally starting to turn around.
“We know we’re a good team,” Bruin said. “Guys are getting healthy and getting back so we’re going to get the ball rolling. A point’s something to work on and we’ll go from there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.