The Houston Dynamo are currently mired in their worst season since 2010 when they only won nine games and tallied 33 points. It looks like the Dynamo could end up with fewer wins, but more points this year than that 2010 squad. They are currently 5-10-10 with 25 points and in last place in the Western Conference. But it could be so much different if the team had figured out a way to close out games.
To start the season the Dynamo set an MLS record scoring 11 goals in their first three games. The most ever to start the season in the MLS. They only got 4 points in those three games. Try and find another stretch of a team scoring 11 goals in three games and only getting four points.
The team then transitioned from high scoring with the potential to get scored on to an ability to hold teams out of the net, but without scoring themselves. Since that three-game stretch to start the season the Dynamo have only scored 17 goals in 22 games. They’ve allowed 24 goals in those 22 games.
Of the 31 goals, the Dynamo have allowed this season (which ranks as the 4th lowest in the Western Conference) six of them have come in the final ten minutes or extra time. The Dynamo’s lack of ability to close out games has killed them. Here are the games in which they have allowed a goal after the 80th minute:
Vs. New England Revolution 3 – 3 draw – Diago Kobayashi goal in the 90’+3′
@ New York Red Bull 4-3 loss – Felipe goal in the 83′
Vs. Seattle Sounders 1-1 draw – Chad Marshall goal in the 90’+4′
@ Portland Timbers 3-2 loss – Diego Valeri goals in the 82′ (PK) and 90’+1′ (PK)
Vs. Seattle Sounders 1-1 draw – Nicolas Lodeiro goal in the 90’+4′
If the Dynamo could have held off their opponents late in these games they would have 9 more points, which would place them with 34 points and in the playoffs right now. If you increase that ten-minute threshold to goals scored after the 75th minute the Dynamo would have beat New York in week three and got another two points and they would have picked up a draw against the Impact in a game they lost 1-0 after a 77th-minute goal. That would put them with 37 points on the heels of Kansas City (38) for the 5th spot in the West.
Why are the Dynamo having so much trouble late in games? It is harder to be the team winning late in a game than the team trailing. When you’re trailing you push forward, you take more chances and that tends to lead to more chances, but when it has happened this often to one team it can’t just be the other teams getting more chances.
Is fitness an issue? Are the Dynamo players wearing out before the 90-minute mark and thus making mistakes and causing better chances or second chances for the opposing teams. We saw this a bit in week one against the Revs when substitute Kobayashi got a chance after a failed clearance by the Dynamo defense and again the first time against the Sounders when an inability to clear the ball allowed Marshall to tap one in to rescue a point for Seattle.
Is is philosophy? Are the tactics used by Coyle and Wade Barrett causing the team to fail when put in pressure situations? The first three instances of the Dynamo releasing points late were under Coyle, the last two under Barrett. All three of Coyle’s team’s miscues happened when the Dynamo were a little more high flying and aggressive offensively. Barnes and Andrew Wenger were on the outside of the midfield and neither one of them are great box to box midfielders. Maybe the lack of having a bit more all around guys to help get balls clear and be in good position on those late pushes from the opposition. For the Barrett the two losses have been similar, despite playing as a team that is much more defensive the defense gives late good opportunities to the opponents. In the case of the Portland game, two PKs were given, one probably wasn’t warranted, but if the Timbers didn’t have the opportunity, they couldn’t draw the penalty.
Does the team need to work on possession better? Could this entire situation stop with a few guys who can be relied on to hold the ball, take time off the clock, and preserve the lead? Alex seems to be the best guy to hold the ball, but he’s also had some games where he turns the ball over a lot.
It’s unfortunate for the Forever Orange faithful when you look at a team that could be in a much better place. Instead, they are sitting as the worst team in the division. It’s even harder when you can’t seem to put a finger on the problem.
The Dynamo look to take one positive on the season, winning the Texas Derby over FC Dallas on Saturday. A win or a draw will clinch the victory in the annual Texas matchup and ‘El Capitan’ will return to Houston.