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Last-place Houston Dynamo know they must fix late-game woes

HOUSTON - It's safe to say the Houston Dynamo are ready to turn the calendar page.

A winless (0-3-1) April saw Houston drop to last place in Major League Soccer, the only team to average less than one point per game played (0.63).

Despite the fact that the Dynamo have the worst defense (2.00 goals allowed per game in MLS), head coach Owen Coyle and his charges feel their 1-5-2 record is hardly indicative of their overall performance so far.

“We’ve shot ourselves in the foot with some individual errors,” Coyle said after Wednesday’s practice. “With the exception of the LA Galaxy game, which was a poor performance, we have performed very well. We’ve scored goals, but what we have to do is cut out those individual errors.”

Houston have scored goals, averaging 1.75 per game to tie for third in the league with first-place Real Salt Lake. They even set an MLS record for most goals scored (11) in their first three games. Yet three times in their eight games, Houston have relinquished the lead after the 80th minute, twice allowing goals in stoppage time at home (March 6 vs. New England, April 10 vs. Seattle).

“The points were in the bag, and we gave them up in the last seconds of the game,” Coyle said.

Houston have taken the lead in six of their eight games, yet they have just five points to show for it. So heading into Saturday’s matchup against Sporting Kansas City (8:30pm ET, MLS LIVE), the start of a three-game week, the Dynamo intend to focus on that old standby: playing a complete game.

“These three games coming up in a week, that could be nine points right there, and everyone can forget about this past month,” forward Will Bruin said. “But it starts on Saturday with a good Sporting KC team, and we’re gonna have to be focus and prepare for 90 minutes to get three points.”

After the Dynamo’s 4-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on April 15, Coyle promised changes to the team’s starting lineup, and Bruin — one of three eventual changes — was a casualty, despite netting three goals and two assists to date.

“When things are tough and results aren’t going our way, I don’t think anybody can be safe in the starting 11,” said Bruin. “I think Owen and the staff are trying to find the right mix of guys that can start getting wins, because you know it’s for the team, it’s not for any individual. If we get three points as a team, then the individual performances become better and easier.”

Coyle said the Dynamo are capable of “doing the difficult thing, which is to get in front of games,” but now need to play a complete game, “and now that becomes our concentration, our focus and our mentality.”