Houston Dynamo looking to carry home form into Saturday's road match
Brad Davis wants his team to dig in and "do the dirty work" on Saturday against Toronto FC (3 p.m. KPRC Local 2) as the Houston Dynamo bid to find the winning formula on the road.
The Dynamo captain delivered a typically-committed performance on Sunday and scored an 81st-minute winner as the Dynamo overcame the Chicago Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium to set a new MLS record of 35 straight unbeaten home games in all competitions.
It was an eye-catching, all-action display from the five-time MLS All-Star - enough to earn him league player of the week honors
"It's great, it means you had a good week, but the biggest thing is that that award's not handed out unless individually you did well and as a team you did well, that's the most important thing," he said.
WATCH: Dynamo 2, Fire 1
For Davis, one of the keys to the 2-1 victory over the Fire was the willingness of every man in orange to put in the unseen effort that lays the foundations for success - tackling, tracking back, marking, helping each other. He wants to see that recipe repeated on Saturday.
"It's not always fun to do the dirty work and the little things that go unnoticed as a player sometimes but you have to do that to get good results as a team," the 31-year-old told HoustonDynamo.com. "Everybody was digging in, everybody was a part of that game at all times, attacking and defensively, so that's definitely something that we have to have on the road. It's a challenge for us but it's something we're going to have to overcome and hopefully it starts this weekend in Toronto."
Dominic Kinnear's side have now won all five of their fixtures in their own back yard this season, but all three road trips have brought defeats. A chance to start repairing the away record comes on Saturday as the Dynamo travel to BMO Field to face Toronto.
Since the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Impact do not play this weekend, a win in Ontario will hoist the Dynamo into first place after seven games. Despite being only a quarter of the way through the 2013 season, Davis believes that leading the pack is always significant. He would prefer the Dynamo to be front-runners rather than snapping at the heels of the leaders and waiting for them to slip up.
"You always want to be up top with teams chasing you," the veteran midfielder said. "You don't want to be chasing teams, no matter if it's the beginning of the year, the end of the year, the middle of the year. You always want to be looking down on teams and putting pressure on teams to maybe say, 'you know what, we need to get some points to catch these guys.'
"It's pressure for us to stay there. We might get a chance to get there, but once we get there can we stay there? Can we stay consistent throughout the year? We've kind of had some ups and downs, we haven't been the best team at starting years off over the years, and now we've had a great start to this year so far. Can we keep at a consistent level throughout the entire season?"
Houston endured a disappointing second half against the Portland Timbers and a poor first 45 minutes against FC Dallas in recent weeks but were solid throughout against Chicago.
The need to improve results beyond BBVA Compass Stadium is intensified by a tough set of fixtures ahead, with the Dynamo away for six of their next nine matches. But Kinnear is not looking past Toronto.
"I try not to think too far ahead," the head coach said. "The focus really is on winning the game. It's about gritting the game out, playing well, taking your chances and defending well. You can always replicate the effort but you can't replicate the game. So long as the effort remains the same for 90 minutes then we'll be in good shape."
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian and SI.com.