For the third season, second in a row, the Houston Dynamo will have a long offseason. If you’re looking for a reason why, Sunday’s Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs-eliminating loss provides the road map.
After outplaying the Seattle Sounders for much of 85 minutes, Obafemi Martins was open in front of goal. His free goal-line header, after a corner kick managed to work its way through a slew of players, drew the game level.
In a match in which the Dynamo thought they had the better of the play, the 1-1 draw left a sour taste in their mouths and officially eliminated them from the postseason.
“It was disappointing, especially after we played what I felt was a really good game for almost all the 90 minutes,” Ricardo Clark said. “It was just unfortunate at the end just letting in kind of a soft goal. After a great performance it was really disappointing.
“It’s those little moments of concentration that have kind of let us down. It’s been something that’s happened all season. It’s disappointing.”
It’s the third time the Dynamo will sit out the postseason festivities, a situation the club was seemingly immune to until two seasons ago.
“It sucks. For me, my career, this is my fifth year. My first two years it was MLS Cup both years," said Dynamo leading goal-scorer Will Bruin. "Playoffs the third and lost in the Eastern Conference finals then these last two years not making the playoffs. I thought we should’ve been in the playoffs to be honest with you. We shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times this year.
“To still give ourselves a chance coming into the final two games is good. We’re there, we’re right on the cusp of being a contending team but we’ve got to be consistent the whole year.”
On Sunday, the Dynamo simply let off the gas at the wrong moment. Houston had kept Seattle’s potent forward duo of Martins and Clint Dempsey at bay. On top of that, Owen Coyle's side worked the lead on Clark’s career-high eighth goal of the season, a goal that fittingly came from him and fellow Dynamo stalwart Brad Davis on the day the Dynamo celebrated their 10th season.
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Lapsing in concentration at the end of the game undid much of the good that did. Now a season that was seemingly on the brink as of two months ago is officially in the books.
Houston will finish the campaign in Vancouver next week. After that, when the Dynamo look back they’ll likely focus on the good moving forward and they’ll focus on building the team in Coyle’s vision. Part of that will be deciding which players to keep at the club.
But in any review of the season the consistent lapses in concentration and succumbing to what they called soft goals will stick out.
“It was a soft goal. We have to make sure we’re tighter defensively and not giving up goals,” Coyle said.
“We know we can score goals. The first half, I felt that was as good as we passed the ball all season against a top team. I thought we were excellent today. We were playing against a high-quality team. We wanted to finish with a home win.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.