HOUSTON – Consistency was a topic this week for the Houston Dynamo. After 90 minutes of uneven soccer Friday night against the Chicago Fire, the club is no closer to finding it.
Houston looked to be in a good spot following Alex’s opening goal in the 56th minute after a choppy first half. The remaining 34 minutes, however, put the team’s issues on display.
As the Fire, the club with the league’s worst record, pushed forward, Houston struggled to make good decisions and allowed the visitors a slew of looks at their goal. When a Patrick Nyarko hustle play ended in a late goal and 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo were left to consider if their play was too soft.
“When you’re up 1-0 at home and you give up a goal like that, that’s weak; end of story,” said Dynamo striker Will Bruin. “That starts from the front and goes to the back. It’s no individual, it’s a team performance, and we’ve just got to be stronger mentally and physically as a team.
“We’ve got to step up and basically just be men. That’s a terrible result at home. That has to be three points. There’s nothing else to say.”
Bruin missed an early chance that would have put Houston up in the opening quarter-hour but was unable to get his feet set, something he took responsibility for after the game.
Head coach Owen Coyle backed up Bruin’s sentiments, pointing out his side’s lack of consistency and good decision-making during the game. Houston struggled to hold possession throughout the night, especially after taking the lead, and it was a turnover that led to Nyarko’s goal.
Coyle was critical of his team giving up what he called a soft goal.
“The goal is a catalog of errors, there’s no getting away from that,” Coyle told the media. “I do think that's when you need to take care of the ball and make good decisions. Once you do that, you have to see the game out. And that's not about being the best player in the world, that's about standing up, organizing, getting that mental character, that desire, where you're not giving anything up. And that comes in many ways.
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“I just felt that softness, whether it’s been there for a period of time because there were a lot of goals conceded last year, but I can tell you day-by-day we work at the training ground, and we’ll rectify that.”
Giving up soft goals has been something the club has dealt with all season. Whether it’s switching off mentally or their struggles with passing or simply dropping too deep and giving Chicago too much respect, the Dynamo took their foot off the pedal.
“I think tonight was another type of moment where we kind of backed off and kind of accepted we’re good, we’re up one-nothing, and we can’t do that at this level,” said Dynamo captain Brad Davis. “Unfortunately in this business you can’t always be a nice person. Right now I think there’s questions on whether teams don’t like playing us. I know for a fact that in the past that teams did not like coming here and playing against us, and we have to get that mentality back.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.