It would be understandable if Dynamo players were disappointed following Sunday's 3-1 loss vs. the Chicago Fire. The team is now on a four-game winless streak after not losing a match in eight straight. In only a month, the team has gone from first place in the Eastern Conference to a tie for fourth place with D.C. United and the Montreal Impact nipping at the heels. However, following Sunday night's match, the focus for Dynamo players was not on the match that just happened, but on the match that lies ahead.
"The way the last couple games have gone, it's almost like it's become playoff time in the sense that our descent from the top of the Eastern Conference has been fast," Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall told reporters after the match.
The top five teams in each conference make the playoffs. If the season ended today, the Dynamo would play Columbus in the Eastern Conference wild-card match. As the fourth seed, the Dynamo would host the match with Columbus with the winner advancing to play the first place team in a home-and-home semifinal series.
"We're still in a playoff spot, but we have to start winning games," Hall added. "We have to treat games like the end of the season, like we did last year. That's where we found success."
The Dynamo goalkeeper is referring to the run Houston went on toward the end of last season that propelled the club into the playoffs and all the way to the MLS Cup final. Houston went unbeaten in its last six regular season matches of 2011 and finished behind only Sporting Kansas City in the conference standings.
With seven games to go in the regular season, the Dynamo understand that every point is critical and that begins with Thursday's match against Salt Lake.
“Every point does count," midfielder Brad Davis said. "That’s the mentality we need to have. If it ended today, we’d be in, but seven games is a lot of games and we have to continue to get points.
"We have a little patch here where we’ve been giving away some points. We aren’t happy about it at all. Professionally, we have to turn it around come Thursday. It’s a big game and we better come out with some fight and some spirit and win that game.”