For a week that began with such promise following the announcement of new contracts for head coach Wilmer Cabrera and team vice-president and general manager Matt Jordan to end with a 2-0 home loss was almost unfathomable before Saturday night. Consecutive home losses, something that had not happened since October of the 2016 season was even more unthinkable considering the juggernaut Cabrera’s offensive magic created last season.
This season the finishing power that thrust Houston to a franchise scoring record and an intimidating at home foe game in and game out last season has not consistently materialized this season despite the high octane pressure they have put opposition defenses. Teams are learning to pick their spots.
Just past the quarter hour, New England picked their first spot countering a Houston offensive push that had seen the Dynamo gain five corner kicks in the first ten minutes of play. A four on one break gave the Revs, courtesy of a Teal Bunbary goal , a 1-0 lead leaving the Houston faithful stunned and silent.
“I think we got punished in one situation,” said Cabrera about what led to the defeat. “We lost the ball. But this team, every time we play here at home we’ve been dominating everyone and now the things that we have been facing is the counter attack. We lost the ball twice: on one they score, on the second one we get a red card (Beasley). So, we need to work harder and that’s on me. We need to work harder and get better and how to avoid those mistakes, because those mistakes are the ones that are getting us exposed.”
Soccer is a game known for both the beauty and the difficulty of putting a ball between the pipes. Saturday’s loss continued an opening two weeks of frustration for the Houston Dynamo. Houston fans became spoiled over the last 20 games at BBVA. The men in orange have delivered goals (52) at a rate of 2.6 per match over that span.
The Dynamo outshot New England 15-12. It was the third time this season that Houston had more shots than their opponent. The Dynamo are now 1-2-0 this season when outshooting their opponents and went 9-6-5 when outshooting the opposition last season.
Asked following the match if he is concerned with the teams lack of finishing this season, Cabrera shared this insight;
“It’s just part of this game. It’s part of the reality of this game. Whoever has played soccer understands that sometimes you are going to be sharp and anything that you touch is going to be gold. But sometimes sadly, your players they are going to try their best and they are going to miss some clear opportunities.”
Mauro Manotas, the young Columbian who has been elevated to striker this season led the team with four chances although it could be argued that Alberth Elis had the best opportunities. One on one with New England goalie Matt Turner, La Panterita drilled a shot but right at the keeper.
“We work really hard and we are going to continue working hard because at some point we need to change that luck,” continued Cabrera. “We couldn’t find the net this time. We are going to find the net the next time and that’s our mentality and our approach for the next game.”
The mentality was evident that it wasn’t just for the next game but this game as well despite being down a man for 55 plus minutes, the Dynamo were relentless in their effort. Carrying the play to the New England defensive third time and again. Following Beasley’s ejection in the 35th minute, Houston created eight more scoring opportunities with three on target and two blocked. Substitutions by Cabrera demonstrated no time for feeling sorry or down on your luck. Houston inserted both Romell Quioto and Memo Rodriguez into the second giving the Dynamo not only fresh legs but players with a nose for the goal. Those two alone in the final created three moments for themselves including a rocket from Memo that hit Turner square.
“We tried to leave (FW) Alberth (Elis) and (FW) Mauro (Manotas) a little bit more with freedom to look for opportunities,” concluded Cabrera. “I told them we are going to have one or two opportunities and when we have one or two opportunities, we need to put that ball in the net. We had two clear opportunities, but we couldn’t do it. Even though we tried to put some fresh legs up front, we could not score today. We feel really awkward coming home and losing two times in the first three games of the season. This is something that we have to face now, and we need to fix it.”
Houston returns to MLS action on April 14, 2018 at Avaya Stadium against San Jose before returning home for an April 21st match Eastern Conference power Toronto FC.