On Sunday, the Houston Dynamo lost another game. Not literally of course, the game ended in a draw. However, not only did they concede a game tying goal in added time, but they also gave up critical home points for the second time this season.
Since the start of the season, Houston has celebrated the fact that they scored eleven goals in the first three games. Does that even matter, though? That’s almost the equivalent of scoring one hundred runs in a baseball game, only to lose 101-100. It’s a meaningless statistic that does not win any championships. As Sunday showed us, even having the lead for 90 minutes is worthless if you concede in added time.
Sunday’s game against Seattle wasn’t an anomaly, it is becoming a pattern. Conceding valuable points in the final moments of the game shows a lack of team management. This cannot be blamed on the team captain because he wasn’t there for some of those moments. The buck for seven blown points in the final fifteen minutes of games thus far has to stop with coaching.
Since the team has taken the lead first in most of its games this season, the starting lineup isn’t the obvious issue. Second half tactical decisions and substitution patterns are the problem, however. The team has seemed to go into a shell and sought to absorb pressure way too early so far this season. Decisions on substitutions have often been questionable at best.
A solution is is difficult to come by. Given enough time, perhaps Dynamo manager Owen Coyle will continue to come up the MLS learning curve and improve how he handles matches. In the meantime, although it is way too early in the season to panic, the current path leads to yet another year of no playoffs.
Alternatively, the team could decide to relieve Coyle of his duties and move in a different direction. When an asset that the owners invested millions to acquire continues to sit on the bench unused, switching to a manager that has a better appreciation of Cubo Torres’ talents and how to use them is tempting. However, starting over again is not without its risks and removing a manager so early in the season is a knee jerk reaction anyway.
One thing is for certain, however; time is of the essence. The gap in the Western Conference is quickly growing. Points lost early in the season are worth the same as those lost in the end. It is already getting to the point this season that the fans can sense when an opposing goal is coming. The manner in which the Dynamo have performed in the second half in the majority of their games this season is simply unacceptable. Something needs to change, and it needs to change quickly.