With just four of their last nine games at home, the Houston Dynamo understand what is riding on every game they play in the friendly confines of Robertson Stadium.
Currently sitting in fourth place in an Eastern Conference race where four teams are within three points of each other and with no wins on the road this season, the opportunity to get points at home is magnified. The Dynamo's next chance comes Saturday against a tough opponent in Real Salt Lake.
“We’re not winning on the road, so we have to win at home,” defender Andre Hainault said after training on Friday. “With the heat, crowd, and momentum we’ve had of late, it’s a big one for us tomorrow.”
Houston has played well over the last two months, getting a result in eight of the last nine matches. During that stretch, the Dynamo are undefeated at home and have won three of four, including an impressive 3-1 result against the Seattle Sounders on July 30. RSL presents a similar challenge to Seattle as an experienced club that has given Houston trouble in the past.
“They’ve got two center backs who like to mix it up and are physically imposing guys, and then you have a guy like Kyle Beckerman who isn’t afraid to get stuck in,” captain Brian Ching said. “They’re so good because they’re a good passing team with a little bit of bite to them.”
Midfielder Adam Moffat will miss the game due to a red-card suspension after drawing two yellow cards in Wednesday’s match against New England. While Moffat is out, Colin Clark’s prospects look to be improving. The winger took part in Friday’s training and was upgraded from questionable to probable on Friday's injury report, but whether the left-footed midfielder can return to the starting lineup is open to question.
With the lineup in flux and a tough challenge ahead, the Dynamo are looking to capitalize on their home-field opportunities from here on.
“We have to pay attention [to the playoff standings], and I hope it’s been like that the last month or so,” Hainault said. “You don’t want to leave it to the last few games of the season. We want to get that playoff spot early, and right now we’re in a good spot and right in the thick of things where points are crucial, and that includes tomorrow.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.