After a 109-minute weather delay in the first half, the Houston Dynamo came out with energy. But after a second delay at halftime that lasted 61 minutes, the club was left to question its mentality.
Houston overcame the initial weather stoppage to go into the break even at zero, but the Dynamo stumbled out of the second prolonged break, lacking intensity and sharpness. And it opened the door for the New England Revolution to pounce at home for a 2-0 result.
“They came out after the break and they wanted to win,” said Dynamo veteran fullback DaMarcus Beasley, who departed the match after the second delay with a calf injury. “They came out passing the ball and moving and defending as a team and we didn’t. That’s basically what it was. It wasn’t anything they did special. We came in after the first half thinking we were OK, but the second half it just didn’t happen.”
Both teams handled the first delay well. In a match that resembled a pinball game on a slick turf surface, Houston got caught in an up-tempo affair against a team that came out with a ton of energy. While the play was not pretty at times in the first half, both teams worked hard.
That changed after the second break when New England applied the pressure and emerged as the team to finally put its foot on the ball and control the pace of the game.
“You just get frustrated when you know you can’t move the ball. We did it in the first half, we had them pinned in a little bit and had them under a little bit of pressure,” said Houston's Brad Davis. “There’s no reason for all of a sudden the game to change, the same personnel is out there.”
Houston were without injured starters Raúl Rodríguez (groin) and Ricardo Clark (left hamstring), and Beasley, who exited in the second half, but they did not use the absences or the delays as an excuse.
“We don’t hide behind that,” head coach Owen Coyle said. “On this type of surface, the one thing you’ve got to do is pass and move the ball and we certainly did it better in the first half than we started the second half. The last 15 or 20 minutes we were the team pushing to get an equalizer and had one or two good chances.
"But we didn’t take good enough care of the ball and that’s what you need to do on that surface.”
Goalkeeper Tyler Deric attempted to keep the Dynamo in the game with four big saves, but the attack never provided a serious prolonged threat to Revs goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and the tilted field was capitalized by Revolution goal scorers Jose Goncalves and Juan Agudelo. Houston were outshot 10-7 in the end, but New England put six of their attempts on frame compared to just one for the Dynamo.
“One of our coaches said they wanted it more and that comes down to mentality,” Beasley said. “Nobody wants to be out there at 11:30 at night playing in a soccer game, but at the end of the day you don’t want to give away anything. We gave away two goals tonight, which we shouldn’t have.
“Mentally we didn’t come out with the same intensity as we did in the first half. We’ve got a lot of games coming up right now. This game we’ve got to put it behind us and have another go and have a good result [next week] in Portland.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.