MLS Cup the ultimate road test
A big part of the Houston Dynamo’s late-season push was their turnaround on the road. In an MLS Cup final that has long been scheduled for The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., the Dynamo will face their ultimate road test after the LA Galaxy won the Western Conference title to advance to the championship game in their own stadium.
“They’re a very good team, and they haven’t lost there all year,” said Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear. “The Home Depot Center’s their home, so we have a lot to overcome to win this game.”
A quick glance at the teams’ regular-season records shows it’s a mismatch, with LA the best home team in the league (12-0-5) and Houston winless in their first 15 on the road (0-6-9), including a 1-0 loss against the Galaxy in May on a disputed penalty kick. But looks can be deceiving. Houston found its road touch late as part of a season-ending six-game unbeaten streak. They will need to keep that magic going against the Galaxy in front of a crowd that is likely to have a heavy tinge of white, blue, and gold.
“It’s their house, even more so now because the tickets are scarce for us Dynamo people,” Kinnear said.
While the Dynamo may have gotten an unfortunate break with the Cup final being in their opponents' venue, their current form has their confidence soaring. Pressing for the playoffs, Houston has won four consecutive road games for the first time in club history, including regular-season shutouts of both FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers in the last month of the season.
That success followed the Dynamo into the playoffs, as they won games at Philadelphia in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals and then scored a big away win against Sporting Kansas City to win the Eastern Conference Championship. Those performances - which included three shutouts in four matches - were a big boost to a Dynamo side currently preparing for their final and clearly their toughest road test of the season.
“They’ve played really well at home and are undefeated there this year,” said defender Geoff Cameron. “We know they have a great team, but so do we. Sporting was good at home, and we went in there with the frame of mind that we were going to make it tough for them to play and we did it. That’s the frame of mind here. We’re going there for a win and not the hoopla. We’re going there to get a championship.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.