For as satisfying as Sunday’s 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City was for the Houston Dynamo, there was no sense of accomplishment or revelry.
There was no music in the locker room or celebrations on the field. Instead, there was a sense of understanding that all that was accomplished was a set up for the next crucial game Wednesday night (FOX Sports Houston 7:30 pm pregame; 8 pm kickoff).
“It’s a weird feeling when it is two legs,” midfielder Adam Moffat said. “Usually, when you win a game, you have your award right there. Nothing is done. We have just set ourselves well for the next game.”
After the match, Moffat’s teammates fell in line with the same mode of thinking. Houston spoke of staying focused and keeping things in perspective with another 90 minutes against a Kansas City club that is sure to come out with a dire mindset when the club’s meet Wednesday night.
“We knew Kansas City was going to come out and make it difficult for us and I don’t think that will change come Wednesday,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “They are an explosive team. They test you physically at every opportunity with long throws and set pieces and big, strong, powerful players. By no means is this over.”
Historical evidence backs their mindset. Since MLS went to home and home series in the playoffs in 2003, eight teams have been down two or more goals heading into the second leg. Two, the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003 and KC Wizards in 2004, have overcome them.
In speaking with the team, the keys to extending their success will be composure and keeping the state of the series in perspective over the next few days.
It certainly helps that the Dynamo have been here before. In their previous five trips to the playoffs, Houston is 4-1 in two-game playoff series. As the grind sets in, that's experience they can draw from.
“This team was in the [MLS Cup] final last year and guys before have won so we know not to get too high or too low,” said Calen Carr. “Kansas City’s a great team and we have respect for them. We’re gonna be ready to continue to play hard and be ready on Wednesday.”
No update on Jermaine Taylor
At the end of first half, Dynamo center back Jermaine Taylor picked up a left leg injury. The Jamaican defender took the knock in the 44th minute when he deflected a Graham Zusi strike. After coming out for the second half, he exited the match for Andre Hainault in the 55th minute.
“For him to come out of the game takes a lot,” Kinnear said. “He’s a man’s man … For him to let me know he was struggling, you definitely believe him. We’ll find out more about him [Monday].”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.