HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 20: Brian Ching is all smiles after the equalizer by Will Bruin. The Dancing Bear, however, is not satisfied. The Bear is Hungry. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
We've all heard a hundred times, at the least, in our lives the old adage of "playing the full 90". Somehow, that particular age old wisdom seemed to escape the minds of our dearly beloved Dynamo last night as they barely managed to regain some respectability in the waning moments of a rather uncomfortable affair. What makes this particular draw radically more painful than any other is the opponents came in having been labelled the "Worst Team in MLS", and yet the Dynamo only managed a draw. I'll let you mull over that thought for a few moments as you prepare to jump into the dreaded recap, where something special awaits you.
Depending on when you started or stopped watching the match Wednesday night, you might consider it a complete and utter failure or a show of total determination and heart. I was subjected to the entire game, and I'm still at a loss for how best to describe it. On the one hand, Toronto FC looked far better than their "Worst Team in MLS" moniker, and I truly believe they are better than others give them credit for. On the other hand, however, the Houston Dynamo looked every bit as empty and soulless for 70 minutes as they did against the SA Scorpions in the US Open Cup.
So that makes one wonder, which of those two is it really? Well, I've deliberated this morning and a portion of the night before falling asleep on exactly which team we really bleed for, and I came to a stunning conclusion. This one. I know it doesn't make much sense considering what transpired last night, but let me explain in more detail.
We bleed Orange until we die. It's not just our battle cry. It's the truth. We live and die by the set piece, heart palpitations be damned. We hold our breath every moment Brad Davis has the ball, and even more so when Brian Ching takes to the air. We scream and yell with all we have when the team doesn't hold their own, and do the same when they do. We bleed Orange until we die. So what does THAT all mean?
Simple. We cheer for the team who has the heart to come back, but only after defensive mental lapses cost us dearly. We rely on Will Bruin, Brian Ching and Brad Davis to constantly dig us out of the holes our own defense creates. If someone asked me a year or two ago what the strength of the team was I would have unabashedly stated, "The Defense". Now? I'm not so sure.
After the first 20 minutes we found ourselves knotted up thanks to a Bobby Boswell header off a set piece, and a set piece defensive mental lapse capitalized by Jeremy Hall. Then in the most unsettling fashion Toronto FC, on the heels of some of the most atrocious defending we have seen from our Orange to this day, returned the favor a mere two minutes later. Two freakin' minutes.
To make matters worse, we had yet another defensive miscue and Toronto FC again capitalized. A fairly decent cross from Julian de Guzman to the head of Dutch International and Toronto FC Designated Player Danny Koevermans. Koevermans looked every bit as good as advertised, continuing to create multiple chances off the counter attack.
It was a miracle the Dynamo only found themselves down by two goals after the first half came to a close. It was then Dominic Kinnear in his typical simplistic fashion told the team "Play better." I know I was wondering at the beginning of the second half why our fearless leader and coach was so calm and collected on the bench. I get it now. I really do. This team knows, no matter what the circumstances, they have the Will (pun totally intended) and heart to do what is necessary at the right time.
I don't like having to wait until the 72nd minute to come within one goal of the opposition. That goal came from a picture perfect strike by our most prolific scorer this season, Will Bruin. He wasn't done on the night, though, as in the very last moments of regulation the Dynamo surged forward. Brian Ownby came on as a substitute, and managed to get by his defender which created space for Cameron who played a picture-perfect cross to the soaring head of the Dancing Bear.
I don't like having to wait until the 90th minute plus to pull the game level, but on this night, with the way this team dug themselves a hole in the first half? I'll take it. It wasn't pretty, not until the 70th minute or so, anyways. And as I've said all along, this game of inches is a mighty temperamental mistress. Some days, you find yourself nailing every chance home. Some days, you're lucky to hit the woodwork. And sometimes, like Wednesday night, you find yourself thanking a Dancing Bear and a Will to win.
The regular season is a cruel, lengthy marathon. It wanes down those who play inconsistently, and pares away those who don't deserve to try for the Cup. The playoffs, however, is what this team is built for, and after Wednesday night, the Dynamo find themselves at 20 points. 20 points puts them in 5th in the Eastern Conference, and trying to fight and claw their way into playoff positioning. There is still plenty of games left, but we cannot afford to wait too long to take control of our destiny.
Fuzion's Music Video Tribute to the Match
Any other thoughts/comments/notes? Feel free to comment.