The Houston Dynamo's 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on August 6 could be a much-needed rallying point for the visitors as they return again to face the Union in the first leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday (4 pm CT, ESPN2/Deportes).
“It’s obviously something that, as a team, we can pull from,” Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat said. “We were disappointed we [didn’t win] that game because we played well but gave up an early goal.”
Houston dominated possession on the night, controlling the ball for 58 percent of the match, while also outshooting the Union 16-8. Despite the offensive control, however, they still needed an 85th-minute Geoff Cameron strike to pull out a draw.
That positive result sparked a two-and-a-half-month run that saw the Dynamo climb to second in the Eastern Conference. That success and production can now serve as motivation heading into a hostile playoff environment.
“One hundred percent,” Cameron said when asked if can they learn from their August draw. “We had a good result the last time we played them there. Saying that, it’s a different environment now in the playoffs with more at stake. We’re going to go in there to get a point or three points.”
Le Toux factor
It is no secret who has been the hottest Union player the last third of the season. After scoring one goal in the first five months of the season, Sébastien Le Toux rediscovered his form to the tune of 10 of his club's 17 goals since August 13.
Le Toux’s renaissance has corresponded with a move to a more forward position. As the Frenchman has transitioned from a role as facilitator – he notched nine assists on the year – to goal scorer, opposing defenses now have to know his whereabouts at all times.
“When he’s making his runs, communication is a key thing,” Cameron said. “If he’s making a run through you have to let the other guys know when he is coming through and know what to do.”
Health finally a positive
It seems rare in 2011 that the term "happy" has been used in regards to the Dynamo’s health, but going into the playoffs that's exactly how the team is feeling. When the team trained Friday morning it was nearly all hands on deck, with the only missing head being Cam Weaver, who is out for the season due to a hip injury.
“To come out and be able to go through things and count 20-plus players, it’s nice to have a healthy squad going into this important part of the season,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.