The Houston Dynamo went into the second half of their Wednesday night game against the Colorado Rapids tied 1-1 and with every chance to pull out a victory and make up ground in the Western Conference playoff race.
Instead, Houston managed just one shot on target, conceded a late goal and fell 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to absorb another hit to their fading playoff chances.
“Second half, to be fair, I thought Colorado did well; they obviously forced the pace,” Houston head coach Owen Coyle said. “The second goal’s disappointing for me. Disappointing from us because at one each you’re still placed to leave with a positive result but still got foundation to try and win the game.
Colorado’s winner was a result of hustle. Rapids center back Sean St. Ledger beat fill-in left back Alex to get to a ball at the end line. A number of Dynamo players stopped to waive to the referee that the ball was out, but no flag was raised and the defender squared a cross to the back post for a Kevin Doyle header that sunk Houston’s chances.
“That, yeah, maybe following the runners as well,” said Houston forward Giles Barnes when asked about playing to the whistle on the second goal. “The boy started pretty deep. It could’ve been avoided. It’s not the result we wanted when we came here. We’ve got games left, and we can still get in the playoffs.”
While the defense was beat on the play, goalkeeper Tyler Deric said he could’ve done better on the chance.
“Yeah, I take full responsibility for that second goal,” Deric said. “It’s one of those things where you just switch off for a second, and it’s disappointing to let down your teammates in a case like that.”
Getting outhustled late was indicative of Houston’s second half. The Dynamo never got going during the stanza as giveaways, a lack of energy and an invigorated Rapids squad made creating chances tough.
But Coyle said it was a half that could have played out much differently.
When Colorado defender Bobby Burling handled a Nathan Sturgis cross, leading to a penalty and Houston’s first goal on a Brad Davis spot kick, Coyle questioned the decision to show Burling a yellow card instead of a red.
“[Burling’s] punched the ball, and it’s a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and it should be a red card as well as a penalty,” the Dynamo head coach said.
On Friday, Houston dropped a two-goal lead to the Portland Timbers in a what ended as a 2-2 draw, and a week before they battled two weather delays and a poor second half to drop a 2-0 result at the New England Revolution.
It ends a three-game road trip in which Houston managed just one point to remain three points out of the playoff places in the West.
“We didn’t play good enough to get a result, and it was justified,” Deric said.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.