A spirited offense and an aggressive defense might have had you thinking Dynamo legends like Boswell, Davis, Holden and Ching were on the pitch Saturday night against the Columbus Crew. But just like that, the illusion vanished.
As the clock struck the hour mark, Houston became the team of 2020. In the 65th minute, the Dynamo dodged a bullet as keeper Marko Maric prevented defender Zarek Valentin’s bid for an own goal. In the 68th minute Victor Cabrera finished off a Columbus attack for an own goal and just like three points were just an after thought as Houston was stuck with a 1-1 draw.
Not yet mathematically eliminated, the Houston side squandered another opportunity to move above the playoff cut line and prove they weren’t just pretenders. With road games against LAFC and FC Dallas, before closing out the season against the Colorado Rapids, it appears not only will Houston not have a winning season but they will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.
“We’re just not good in the final third and not finishing our chances,” lamented Dynamo head coach Tab Ramos after the match. “Normally, you have to be satisfied in a game if you create five or six opportunities, and it’s difficult to continue to create so many that we don’t win easily. This game as well as the Minnesota game we just played should have been two easy ones for us to win, and they were two ties.”
Houston created three times as many shots, 24 to 8, with six on goal compared to Columbus’ one. In Minnesota, as Ramos alluded, to the Houston side out shot MNUFC 15-4 with eight on target. On the other side, the Loons put three of four on goal and scored twice. The week before it was a 19 shot barrage in Nashville with six on target and one goal while the opposition put up 16 shots with seven on target and three goals. As you backtrack through the season, the problem remains the same, for all the talent they cannot find the back of the net.
“We’re creating opportunities in front of goal. If you look at their goal today, we basically scored on ourselves. We roll out opportunities that we have on goal, but we just can’t put them away,” continued Ramos. “We have to continue to work on that at practice – finishing in the final third. We’re at the end of the year and this is the moment where we should be sharp in front of goal.”
Darwin Quintero, the team’s leading goal scorer had an opportunity late to put the game winner away from 9 yards out but bad form left the ball, and possibly the Dynamo’s playoff chances, sailing off in the wind.