Houston Dynamo's improving defense cements status as West contender

HOUSTON – Three points at home. That’s all Houston Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera wants to talk about.

That the Dynamo sit atop the Western Conference standings doesn’t mean a thing. To Cabrera, Saturday’s 3-0 win over San Jose was just another victory on the road towards the team’s ultimate goal: a return to the playoffs after three years away.

“We’re thinking about our home games. Right now, the priority for us was this game against San Jose because it’s another contender for the playoffs,”  Cabrera said. “And we were at home so we needed these three points.

“We’re not thinking about our position. We’re just thinking that our goal is to be in the playoffs. Bring the team back to the playoffs where it deserves to be. And we’re working game by game with that objective.”

As long as the games are at BBVA Compass Stadium, it’s a good bet that Houston will reign victorious. They are currently 9-0-3 at home and have already set a club record for home goals in a season with 33. The previous high was 32 in 2011.

Although most of the talk around the Dynamo this year has been about the potency of their attack, their defense quietly posted a second straight clean sheet against San Jose. That fact wasn’t lost on Cabrera, who noted that his team’s defense has been steadily improving as the season progresses.

“When a team gets better defensively, it gives it more possibilities to experiment with the lineup up top and give some players rest and play others. That has been really important for us,” Cabrera said. “Getting a clean sheet is gratifying for the defensive players like Tyler [Deric], the backline, plus Ricardo [Clark] and Juan David [Cabezas]. It’s important for us to keep consolidating our defense.”

Dynamo right back A.J. DeLaGarza chalks up the last two clean sheets and the improving defense to a backline that was completely overhauled in the offseason being on the same page and getting into rhythm.

“We’re still learning about one another and our tendencies,” DeLaGarza said. “We’re at the latter part of the season so I guess things are clicking.”