After weekend loss, Houston Dynamo have a chance to start new streak Saturday vs. New England
Sports specializes in strange twists of fate. So a week that saw two outstanding road victories ended with the Dynamo losing at home for the first time in 23 months. And on the first anniversary of the inaugural match at BBVA Compass Stadium, as well.
Walking off their field as a beaten team after the 1-0 defeat to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday was a strange feeling for Houston, but head coach Dominic Kinnear says that the players have already mentally bounced back ahead of this weekend's match against the New England Revolution.
"I think [defender] Bobby Boswell made a good point, he said this loss isn't going to break us as a team and I think that's very true," Kinnear told HoustonDynamo.com. "It's all about winning games and trying to place as high as you can, no matter if it's the eleventh game or the third game. You've got to have an even keel. The guys don't have their heads down."
Sporting's players celebrated exuberantly at the final whistle after they halted Houston's MLS-record unbeaten home streak at 36 games in all competitions - 30 in MLS. Their delight reflected a sense of achievement at becoming the first visitors to win in BBVA Compass Stadium, as well as the developing rivalry between two Eastern Conference powerhouses. Houston knocked Kansas City out of the play-offs in each of the past two years.
Kinnear accepts it was a dramatic and passionate match, but wants to put it into perspective.
"I look at it as the eleventh game of a 34-game season. Obviously there's lots of storylines around it, their celebration, losing at home for the first time. It's bound to happen," he said.
"The thing for me was if we would have got three points we'd have bounced ourselves into first or if it would have been a draw we'd have kept our place between Kansas City and ourselves and we'd have gotten to the top of the East."
Houston are second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the New York Red Bulls and ahead of Kansas City on goals scored. Both clubs have played more fixtures than Kinnear's men, so in terms of points per game, Houston are the best in the division so far and second in MLS only to Western leaders FC Dallas.
After the headline-grabbing loss to Sporting, it would be easy to forget that the Dynamo's two prior games brought a stunning 1-0 win over MLS Cup champions the LA Galaxy and a 4-0 demolition of D.C. United.
A return of six points out of a possible nine from three fixtures in eight days against three clubs who reached last year's post-season? Were it not for the end of the streak, that would count as a very solid week's work. Especially considering the tiring journeys the team had to undertake as they crossed the country in the days before Sporting's visit.
"It's not a bad week," said Kinnear. As he pointed out, the Dynamo were no less resolute than usual against Kansas City. Despite missing several key players. the team's display was not abnormal, even if the result was. Until Aurelien Collin's 73rd-minute winner, a tight match looked headed for a stalemate that would have been a fair outcome for both sides.
"They played until the last minute," Kinnear said. "I told them, 'you played 270 minutes in the space of eight days and you pumped away for 270 minutes'. So, pretty impressive performance. They would have loved to have gotten nine; six isn't so bad."
And as fate - or at least the MLS schedulers - would have it, Houston have the chance to start a new streak as soon as Saturday. The Revolution arrive at BBVA Compass Stadium without an away win since their first match of the season, so the Dynamo have a good opportunity to rebuild the fortress.
"We didn't want the streak to break, but we have to put games behind us once we've played them," said defender Jermaine Taylor. "It was a good run but we have to move forward
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.