The 2015 MLS season was a rebuilding year for the Houston Dynamo. 2016 brought a new-look side that promised to be more technical on the ball and more proficient. For the 90 minutes, the Orange looked the part.
In the end, the defense that let the Dynamo down all too often in 2015 reared its ugly head in stoppage time, as the Dynamo drew 3-3 with the New England Revolution in the 2016 MLS season opener.
"It's frustrating to lose a goal with the last five seconds of the added time," Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle said after the match. "But again, what the players put in, they were fantastic. It was a credit to themselves."
Giles Barnes scored what appeared to be the game winner in the 77th minute. Will Bruin sent a low cross toward the top of the box to Boniek Garcia, who left the shot for a wide-open Barnes. He drilled his shot past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
"I saw Boni [Garcia] and Giles behind them," Bruin talking about his assist. "I knew if I put enough pace on it to where they could hit it first time, something would happen - and Giles had a great finish."
A couple of injuries to US internationals Ricardo Clark and DeMarcus Beasley forced Coyle to make a couple of unexpected subs, bringing in David Rocha and Boniek Garcia respectively. After using his final sub to bring in Mauro Manotas in the 75th minute, Coyle was forced to leave Alex when he was injured in the final 10 minutes of the match.
"Effectively, we're playing with 10 men because Alex could barely get up and jog." Coyle said.
Barnes praised Alex for finishing the match while injured, adding, "it just shows you the kind of heart he has."
The Dynamo started with match with same intensity they always display for home matches at BBVA Compass Stadium, earning a pair of corner kicks inside the first minute. But the Diego Fagundez and the Revolution quickly quelled the momentum with goal in the 3rd minute.
Still, the home team took it to the New Englanders the entire first half; and was rewarded with an equalizer by winter acquisition Christian Maidana. Immediately after the half, Andrew Wenger put the Dynamo on top with a low strike to the far post.
Revolution forward Charlie Davis would tie the match at 2-2 just two minutes later.
Still, to have three points in hand to open the season and come away with draw is stinger to the Orange - a narrative to left them outside of the MLS Cup Playoffs last year. The Dynamo are aware of that, but know there's still plenty of season left to change their outlook.
"We got to keep of heads up because its only 1 of 34 [games] this season," Bruin said. "We can't dwell on it. It's lost points that could affect us at the end of the year, but we just got to look forward."