July signals the arrival of summer in MLS, and while the customary steamy summer temperatures have arrived, the Houston Dynamo simply don't have the time to sit back and enjoy the weather.
The Dynamo have 20 points and find themselves one point out of a three-way tie for the third of four wildcard playoff spots. Starting with their home match against Toronto FC on Saturday (7:30 p.m.), they have an opportunity with three of their next four July league matches at home to turn their fortunes in the race for the postseason.
“What’s behind us is behind us,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “If you look at the schedule, it’s a good chance to make a run. Kansas City has gone past us and Toronto is right behind us, so these are important games.”
Toronto got the better of Houston at BMO Field on May 7, riding Joao Plata’s strong play to a 2-1 victory. Now playing under what is sure to be the blazing Texas sun, the Dynamo are looking to start taking advantage of their home field this weekend. But that has been easier said than done this year. Heading into the weekend, the Dynamo sport an underwhelming home record of 4-3-2.
“The home record isn’t where we want it, and the last time [we played] at home we walked off the field disappointed,” Kinnear said, referring to Houston’s 2-0 loss to Columbus on June 18.
Defender Kofi Sarkodie, who has started the last two matches at right back, is confident the Dynamo can turn their home troubles around.
“I think at this point we’ve been searching for three points and we haven’t been able to get that back,” he said. “If we can go in there and use our fans as a 12th man and use their energy in the match, [we can] get three points.”
Taking advantage of its home field is important for a Houston team that has been treading water in the standings the past two months. With Eastern conference foes Columbus and Sporting KC climbing their way up the table, the Dynamo find themselves trying to keep pace.
“It’s the second half of the season, and teams are starting to make moves,” Sarkodie added. “New York won Wednesday, and Philadelphia’s in a good spot, so now it’s time for us to make some moves.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow me on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.