It's playoff time in MLS, and the Houston Dynamo are feeling right at home.
Despite being the fifth and final qualifier in the Eastern Conference, the Dynamo were confident about their chances after Monday’s training in part because of their experience level. The group that travels to Chicago for Wednesday night’s Knockout Round match (8 pm CT; ESPN2, TSN2/RDS2; LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com) is, in large part, the same group that made it all the way to last season’s MLS Cup final.
So they’re pretty sure they’ll be ready to answer the bell.
“We have guys who’ve been there and we believe in our team mentality and believe in what we’re doing,” said midfielder Brad Davis. “The playoffs come down to everybody fighting for one another, stepping up that intensity a little bit and we know this is a team that’s able to that when our backs are against the wall. That’s when we start to flourish.”
While Houston have shown a propensity to rise to the occasion, they understand why they are where they are. Being in fifth, they know that their path to a fourth MLS Cup final appearance will, in large part, take place on the road in hostile atmospheres against teams that did better than them in the regular season.
“I think we’re in a similar position as we were last year,” Davis said. “We knew last year was going to be a hard road to get where we did, but we got there. Maybe if we didn’t have that last year, you’d go in having a few questions but to know in the back of our minds this is kind of the same steps that we had to go through last year, we have that experience and confidence to know we can do this.”
That could be the boost that separates them when they need it most.
“The playoffs are a tough thing,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “It’s literally one game and you have to be the better team on that night. … But it’s also one game and you could get the momentum going your way. If we can go out and get a goal we can get off on the right foot.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.