It may not have been the message the Houston Dynamo wanted to hear after squandering a 2-0 halftime lead Friday against the Portland Timbers in a game that ended in a 2-2 draw, but head coach Owen Coyle said it was a night full of positives for his side.
And it started in a well-played first half for Houston that resulted in what Coyle called “two wonderful goals” from Boniek García and Will Bruin to stun the Timbers’ raucous Providence Park crowd and put the Dynamo in a situation they haven’t experienced much in their up-and-down season – holding a big lead on the road.
In the end, the Dynamo were forced to settle for a share of points after a second-half onslaught by the Timbers.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt given the circumstances that we feel we’ve dropped two points,” Coyle told MLSsoccer.com. “The atmosphere, it’s a magnificent stadium, the supporters really buy into it and it’s a terrific arena and everything that goes into that, but my players stood up to that and scored two wonderful goals in the first half.”
It was a first half that saw the Dynamo build into more and more chances after weathering an early rush from the Timbers attack.
Garcia’s goal in the 40th minute, on a through ball from Bruin off a recycled corner kick, and then Bruin’s, on another nice feed, this time from Brad Davis, were the only Dynamo shots on goal in the half.
“For the majority of the game, there’s a lot to be pleased about,” Coyle said. “But when you are in the lead and then you lose late on, that’s a disappointment. But there’s a lot of positives to take as well, so we won’t get lost on them.”
Another reason to be pleased, Coyle said, is that Houston were able to snatch a point on the road without four of their most important players: attacker Giles Barnes, defender DaMarcus Beasley, midfielder Ricardo Clark and defender Jermaine Taylor.
“They’re four players who play in the team every week, so to come here give for the majority of the game the performance we did, there’s a lot to be pleased about,” Coyle said.
There are realities at play, however, and missing out on three points with the season entering its final stretch, with the Dynamo still sitting out of playoff position in the competitive Western Conference, is still a tough pill to swallow, Coyle admitted. The first-year Dynamo coach said seeing out a lead takes a toughness his evolving squad is still learning.
“When you get in that situation, it doesn’t have to be pretty, what it has to be is effective,” he said. “And that’s when you need leaders to stand up and be strong. … Are there lessons to be learned, absolutely, and that’s the great thing about our game, when you can learn and tighten those things you up you move on and are stronger for it. And that’s what we need to be.”