It's been said that it's not the start but the finish that matters in sports, but on Friday night the Houston Dynamo’s start put them in a hole they could not crawl out of by the end of a 2-0 loss to Texas rivals FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. Within the first 45 minutes Houston were behind the eight-ball thanks in large part due to the speed of Fabian Castillo and an inability to take control of the ball.
By the time they hit the locker room it was 2-0, thanks to a Jermaine Taylor own goal and a slick give-and-go between Castillo and Mauro Diaz. The Dynamo turned the possession tables in the second half but their finishing shoes stayed in Houston as they suffered a second two-goal road loss in as many weeks.
“Obviously, [we are] quite disappointed. We didn't start the game off on the front foot,” Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis said after the game. Davis returned to Houston's lineup off the bench in the 29th minute to replace the injured Rob Lovejoy (right hamstring) after missing last week’s game with a bruised right knee. “I think we're a much better team in possession and we didn't show that in the first half tonight.
“In the second half I thought we possessed the ball and created some opportunities and some chances and kind of putting them on their back foot a little bit, but it's got to be like that from the start of games.”
Houston’s inability to possess the ball and start quickly was troubling. Dallas put their foot on the gas early and targeted the right side of the Dynamo’s defense.
Castillo was the obvious instigator as he has taken up the mantle of Dynamo torturer in 2015, adding a second big showing to his exploits at BBVA Compass stadium earlier this season where he played a role in three goals.
On Friday he pushed the pace and got a lucky bounce when his end-line cross ricocheted off Taylor’s foot inside the six yard box for Dallas’ first goal in the 33rd minute. Nine minutes later he showed off his skill, breaking into the box and finishing around Tyler Deric.
“We're certainly disappointed with the two goals we lost,” Houston head coach Owen Coyle said. “The own goal we think is avoidable, and we certainly believe that Castillo is one of the best players in the league, there's no doubt about that, and an obvious threat. …. When all is said and done, Dallas had two goals and I think that's a fair assessment of the game.”
Their struggles did come around as Dallas cooled off in the second half and Houston tilted the field their way. With the ball in the final third repeatedly, Houston created their share of chances.
Still, a goal eluded them and the game ended with Dallas maintaining the shutout.
“We couldn't get the goal that would drag us back into the game,” Coyle said. “If we had, then that might have changed things dramatically, but it didn't. We've got to take the chances when they come along, and when they did, we didn't, and we paid a heavy price.”
Added center back David Horst: “We had a game plan coming in, and we didn't execute it the way we wanted to, and Dallas took advantage of that and got a couple of bounces that went their way. Bounces go in or they don't go your way, but there's no excuses. We didn't play well in the first half, but we really showed our true colors in the second half and played a lot better.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.