HOUSTON — After an April where the Houston Dynamo consistently found ways to rescue draws and put away wins, May has the club trying to revive that killer instinct and, for the first time all month, take home three points.
After draws against Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls, the club is encouraged with their ability to go “toe-to-toe” with the best teams in the league. Heading into another tough match against league-leading LA Galaxy, the Dynamo are looking to build on the positives from recent weeks.
“I think our confidence is up because we’ve been playing well,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Yes we let one get away Saturday [a 2-2 draw against New York], but we played well and if you dwell on it, it can hurt. You have to be ready to step on the field and play hard no matter what.”
After training Tuesday, the Dynamo talked about the importance of taking that confidence out on the field with them Wednesday night. Playing confidently, especially on the road, is a concept Kinnear has emphasized in recent weeks.
“We’ve talked about being confident while still respecting [the opposition],” said defender Hunter Freeman. “We can’t go out there timid or shy, you obviously have to be smart about it, but you also have to be confident in your play.”
Confidence will be important for Kinnear & Co. against a Galaxy side that has a dangerous up-tempo attack led by Landon Donovan, who is arguably the league’s best player. Freeman pointed out that the Dynamo need to communicate well to limit Donovan’s ability to impact the game. The key, he said, is putting him in bad spots when he gets his chances.
“It’s not very often you shut down players like him for 90 minutes,” Freeman said, “so for us, it’s about limiting where he gets those chances on the field. If it’s a shot and we have guys behind the ball, that’s good. But what we don’t want is him running in behind us where he’s one-on-one with the ‘keeper.”
Going into a tough environment against the best team in the league presents an opportunity for the club to put concerns about their recent results to rest and show they are a top team in MLS.
“We’re a good team despite what people want to say about us, and these teams get the best out of us,” midfielder Lovel Palmer said. “The big teams are the ones you want to play against, and LA is one of the big teams with big name players. We want to show the league that we’re a good team and that we’re looking to get going toward the championship.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.