Toronto FC should have known it was going to be a long game when the singer for "O Canada" forgot some of the words to the anthem.
For a second straight game, Toronto was shut out and looked overmatched in a 2-0 loss to Houston Saturday night.
After giving up three second half goals to New York in a 5-0 loss Wednesday, Toronto gave up two second-half goals to the Dynamo (5-6-8, 23 points) in dropping their second straight and fourth in five games.
"We didn't play well," Toronto head coach Aron Winter said. "We went through the motions. We couldn't pass for five or ten minutes, and then we could. We tried and failed to get at least some points. … When the score was 1-0, you can try and force it. I don't think we could get it deep enough."
Winter said his team could have gotten four points or more against Houston and New York, but instead, head back to Toronto with no points and more reason to look forward to designated players Torsten Frings and Danny Kowevermans arrivals.
"We know we are rebuilding," Winter said. "We have two good players to lead us and take us to a higher level. Also, for the younger players. Still, you have to do it with the whole team, and they have to make a difference."
Houston, which is now in fourth in the Eastern Conference, didn't allow Toronto (3-9-9, 18 points) a shot on goal, while launching six shots on goal.
Toronto never created much of a threat against Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, who earned his second straight shutout.
"I would have liked to see more chances," Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. "I think we were building up decent at times, but it never resulted in a full on chance where we got a shot off and tested their goalkeeper. Then, we gave up two silly goals."
Houston's Danny Cruz took a give-and-go pass from Brian Ching near midfield on the right side, and Ching beat Ty Harden with the pass, while Cruz beat Danleigh Borman with his run. Cruz took the pass and raced into the box, nailing a shot from eight yards out on the right off Frei's right leg and inside the far post to make it 1-0 in the 50th minute.
Geoff Cameron upped the lead to 2-0 in the 81st minute off a corner kick as Will Bruin's pass was deflected by Harden to Cameron, who hit a line drive from the centre box past Frei.
Harden said Ching slipped the ball past him on the first goal, and the second on hit his right arm.
"There's not much to say," Harden said. "We're frustrated. There's not much else to say. You have to give some credit to them, but I think what we didn't do is more a part of [the loss]."
Toronto remains in the playoff hunt with 13 games remaining, but they are tied for seventh in the East and six points out of the final playoff spot with a goal differential of minus-19, the worst in the league.
"It's a team sport," Frei said. "We attack together, we defend together, we lose together, we win together. It's unfair to say our defence gives up seven goals [the last two games] because if we play defence for the whole game, we aren't going to crack.
"We need to play more up tempo and more in the opponent's half. What can we take positive from these two games? I guess you could say they're over. There is not much positive to take from these two games."