For a team suddenly on a slide, going into one of the toughest places to play can seem like the last thing you would want to do. Opportunity, however, has a habit of presenting itself in interesting ways.
The Houston Dynamo head to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday to face Real Salt Lake, who are on a league record 28-game home unbeaten streak in MLS play. It's the type of challenge that could get the team back on track after beginning May with two losses.
“Our team looks at it as a challenge for us to go in there and put an end to that streak or to put in a good performance and get a good result,” said forward Cam Weaver. “It’s a challenge to a team that if you can break that streak, it’s a good thing, and that’s how we have to view it.”
The challenge is magnified, as RSL are one of the best teams in MLS, whether playing at home or on the road. As one of the most talented and deepest teams in the league, the CONCACAF Champions League runners-up are dangerous in attack and have a stout defense.
Their ability to control the ball and stifle their opponents' attack has made them one of the toughest draws in MLS. Although RSL will be without injured talisman Javier Morales, the Dynamo know they will need to step up their game to earn the result they want.
“You have to break down their central midfield, as they move the ball well there, so they start picking away at teams,” defender Andre Hainault said. “[Morales being out] doesn’t necessarily change the focus. It’s just one less thing you have to worry about, but it’s not like they’re not a good team without him. It doesn’t really change much for us.”
Regardless of who’s on the field for RSL, the Dynamo understand what is required of them to earn a result in Utah on Saturday night (8 p.m. CT; FOX Soccer). After a tough week of training, the team is ready to shake off the concentration issues that plagued them last week and start another good run. Houston was unbeaten in April.
“I think two weeks ago people were ready to crown us a contender, and now they don’t know,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “But you have to keep concentrating on what you can do. So we’re traveling for a reason: We’re traveling to win this game.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.