Forgive Houston Dynamo players if they are simply not in a great mood right now. A four-game winless streak at a critical time of the season, after all, can do that to a team.
Two days after dropping a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire, the Dynamo went through an intense training session where player’s tolerance of poor play was at a minimum. The message sent during the session was simple: The team's recent play has not been good enough.
“It’s frustration,” striker Brian Ching said of the team’s mood Tuesday at training. “We’re a team that thinks we’re better than the results that we’re getting. We’ve got to put the work in and it’s going to be hard to get back into the swing of things, but I think we’ve got the team that can do it.”
Houston have fallen from second to a tie for fourth place in just three weeks, a stretch that includes home draws against the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC that left the Dynamo feeling they let points slip through their fingers. The performance in Chicago – during which the team fell behind not even one minute into the game – only made it worse.
Suddenly, the Dynamo aren’t doing what they’ve always done best: the little things to get results.
“I don't know if they start at practice, if they start at warm ups, or they start when the whistle is blown, but there are difficult things we need to do,” goalkeeper Tally Hall told reporters after Sunday’s loss. “We have gotten away from doing the difficult things, and the results have shown.”
Ching offered a glimpse into what those difficult things might be on Tuesday.
“It’s tuning in every play,” Ching said. “Sometimes we’re playing the ball so well going forward that as soon as the ball turns over there’s this idea that, ‘Oh we’re going to win it back,’ and that’s not the case. I think about a month ago that was the case; as soon as the ball turned over, we were immediately pressuring.
“We have seven games left and we’re a team that feels we’re better than having to play off to get into the playoffs,” Ching continued. “It’s a difference between an entitlement feeling and going out there and proving it and putting the work in to be one of the best teams.”
The Dynamo host Real Salt Lake on Thursday (7:30 pm CT, FOX Sports Houston Plus, MultiMedios Houston).
“You need to be a hot team; you need to be the team that's playing well, getting the points, getting the wins and gather confidence,” Brad Davis said after Sunday’s match. “That's what we need to concentrate on now."