It’s tough to learn late in a match such an elementary lesson like playing until the final whistle, but Houston Dynamo learned their lesson on Sunday against the Sounders.
Much like in their MLS opening day draw against the New England Revolution, Sunday’s game had a fate all it’s own for the Houston Dynamo. Houston, for the second time this season, was incredibly close to closing out their match against the Seattle Sounders with three points before the match ended in a déjà vu experience of a 1-1 draw.
The match seemed to be heading in the positive direction as fans saw Giles Barnes head onto the pitch to play. The forward had been sidelined for several weeks after suffering a hamstring injury in last month’s Texas Derby against FC Dallas. Barnes looked to be back up to par after his remarkable playing on Sunday and especially after scoring in the 34th minute of the first half.
The Dynamo had possession for most of the first half, dominated the pitch, and had the Sounders truly fumbling around, but also had plenty of missed opportunities when it came to scoring. Head coach Owen Coyle wasn’t shy about expressing his disappointment in the game during a post game press conference where an MLS article reports him saying “We should have had two or three goals in the first half…but we also need to make sure that we see those kinds of games out.”
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Seeing those kind of games out roughly translates to what every fan was thinking at the end of the match and an elementary lesson taught to all young soccer players beginning their career in U-6 soccer: PLAY UNTIL YOU HEAR THE WHISTLE. Despite the fact that things were looking really good for Houston in the first half, the second half came with Seattle fighting as hard as they could. Herculez Gomez came in as a late sub for the Sounders and proved to be an aggressive momentum; Gomez just so happened to be what Seattle needed.
Three minutes of stoppage time was added to the clock and the Sounders continued to push for the equalizer. Three minutes turned into having a fourth minute of stoppage time and three points turned into just one. It looked as though a foul might have been made into the last-minute of stoppage time and Dynamo was reaching for the call from the officials when Seattle’s unsung hero Chad Marshall shot a ball right past Raul Rodriguez without hesitation to add a tally on the board for the Sounders just before the whistles announced the end of the match.
Houston once again faces scrutiny as they are unable to successfully close out a game that should have been a win all along. I don’t think the problem lies anywhere with the offense, however it does with the defense and their seemingly inability to finish a game strong. Dynamo forward Will Bruin expressed his frustration after the match as well, “We’re five games in and I’m already sick of saying, ‘Hey, we’re getting unlucky.’ We’ve got to get three points, plain and simple.”
Bruin isn’t wrong, either. It’s got to be frustrating as a player watching what should’ve been a dominating shut out turn into being forced to settle for the draw. The equalizer could have been completely avoided if the defense simply played their hearts out until they heard the official blow the whistle.
It’s repeated from the very beginning of anyone playing soccer, through high school, college, and even beyond and it’s definitely a mantra that it seems like the Houston Dynamo should consider during their next few matches: play until you hear the whistle. Houston’s next match is Friday, April 15 with kick-off set for 6:00 p.m. CT where they will play against the LA Galaxy and can not be caught off guard late into the game.