It has been a rollercoaster week for the Houston Dynamo. The club lost Danny Cruz (quad injury) and Will Bruin (knee injury) for what is expected to be four to six weeks, but finalized a major move for forward Carlo Costly.
The week’s finale: a Saturday trip to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Philadelphia Union (7 p.m. CT) who currently sit just five points ahead of the Dynamo in the standings.
“Any time you play a team in the [Eastern Conference] it’s important, especially, with it being pretty tight in the standings and with the teams that ran away early coming back to the pack,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said.
Houston are coming off a 3-1 win over the Seattle Sounders that many on the team are saying was their best 90 minutes of soccer all season. Playing at home against a tired but dangerous Seattle side, Houston took the fight to their opponents and employed a strategy centered on shutting down space and using their energy to outlast the visitors.
A week later, in a similar situation — the Union will be playing their third game in a week — Kinnear and his squad will be looking to duplicate their Seattle success.
“I thought we had one of our stronger games against Seattle and now we need to build on that and keep that going, because it seems that this is a season where teams are going on long runs,” defender Andre Hainault said.
Turning up the pressure is just one ingredient to success on the road. If the Dynamo are to finally break through with an away win, the club is going to have to find a way to crack the stingy Philadelphia defense.
On opening weekend, the Dynamo got a first-hand look at how tough it can be to break down the Union back line. Philadelphia got out to a fifth-minute lead and repelled the Dynamo with stout defending for the final 85 minutes of a 1-0 win.
The memories of that game have not faded for Houston, and the club — which has scored in just one of their last six road games — knows the challenge ahead.
“They’ve got a guy like Danny Califf who’s been good for them, and having [Fayrd] Mondragón in the back and [Carlos] Valdés, they’ve been a very good team this year,” Houston midfielder Brad Davis said. “They’ve had some goals scored against them as of late, but are still a team that will fight ‘til the bitter end.”
With the season hitting the home stretch, the Dynamo are looking to show they can be a team that can put it together every time out. Duplicating last week’s effort is a step in that direction.
“For us it’s all about attitude, energy and commitment just like last week,” Kinnear said. “If we have the same desire we showed in that game it gives us a chance to get more points here.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.