HOUSTON – In addition to clinching a spot in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, the Houston Dynamo claimed another piece of history on Saturday night.
The 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union sealed an undefeated regular-season record at home for the Dynamo. It is only the fourth time in MLS history that a club has pulled off the feat.
“It’s a team achievement, 100 percent,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “These guys are the ones that play, and play hard. I’m lucky and appreciative of all their efforts. I have a very nice job and I also have the best seat in the house watching these guys play.”
While Kinnear – who also accomplished the feat in 2005 with the San Jose Earthquakes – was happy to praise his players, they spoke about how important is to their success to have a coach that offers the club stability and sets a clear tone.
“I go back to my first year in San Jose, being coached by Dominic was a complete change for me,” winger Brad Davis said. “He has instilled a winning attitude and he holds us to a higher standard. There is not a day that he doesn’t come out and push us to the extreme and expect a lot out of us. In turn, we expect a lot out of each other.”
The win also moves Houston’s home unbeaten streak to 25, four shy of the MLS record set by Real Salt Lake in 2010.
For a club that focuses on a team first attitude, it’s no surprise that its playoff-clinching goal came on a textbook team combination.
Goalkeeper Tally Hall got a rare chance to be in on the act starting the play by rolling the ball to Davis, who found Brian Ching. The veteran forward led a fast break and ended it by setting up Boniek Garcia for the winner.
“Going from the originals to the new guy this year and it was just right up the spine,” Hall said. “Everyone’s thinking about scoring, everyone’s on the same page. It wasn’t a crazy break, it felt very calculated and in the end, it’s a game-winner and big one for us.”
With Davis back in the fold, Kinnear reverted back to the 4-4-2 formation to drive play up the wings and service into the box. The move to their traditional formation was a switch from the team’s last match, when the club went to the 4-3-3 without their left footed leader.
“Personnel is probably the most important thing for me,” Kinnear said. “The most important thing is to try and keep it simple and basic for the players. I like the 4-4-2. I like having two forwards who are making menacing runs down the wings and into the box, but sometimes it does change.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.