If the season ended today, the Houston Dynamo would be out of the MLS Cup Playoffs. After Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, head coach Dominic Kinnear made sure his players were aware of their situation by putting the club’s 4-4-4 record on the board.
His message: Stick together because they've got some work to do. After speaking with the players Tuesday, the message was heard loud and clear.
“I think he put it up there to make a point: That’s not where we want to be,” Dynamo captain Brian Ching told the media after Tuesday’s training session. “Regardless of how many games we’ve had on the road, we’re a team that feels we should be at the top of the standings. We’re not there and he was just showing us the reality of it.”
Houston currently sit on 16 points and find themselves in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Coming off a loss where it would have been easy to point to the missing players, the less than ideal scheduling or the fact that they have played nine out of 12 games on the road, the players were not about to make excuses.
“We all have high expectations of one another, it doesn’t matter who’s out there,” midfielder Brad Davis said. “We expect to go out there, compete hard and win. There’re no excuses of having guys not here. We beat [the LA Galaxy] without some guys here. It’s the same thing and it’ll be the same thing this weekend. There’s a premium on points every time you step on the field and that does not change game to game.”
Davis' words ring true as the Dynamo look to get back into the playoff hunt. That work begins now as the club enters the middle third of the season with a friendly stretch, playing seven of their next nine at home starting with Saturday’s derby clash against FC Dallas (7:30 pm ET, ESPN2).
According to Kinnear, the key will be capitalizing on one trait the Dynamo have been known for under his watch: team cohesion.
“Sometimes a reminder of where we’re at is a good thing as a group,” the Dynamo boss said. “I told them, ‘Stick together as a group because the worst thing we can do is to start hanging our heads and going off in little groups.’ The strength of the group is great and if we hang together we’ll turn things around and we’ll start climbing up the standings.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.