HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo’s home unbeaten streak was going to come to an end at some point. It just so happens that it ended against a team that had an extra incentive.
Sporting Kansas City talked down the rivalry before Sunday’s affair, but after clinching the 1-0 win and ending Houston’s home unbeaten streak at 36 games, the visitors celebrated the win with a huddle at midfield, led by goal scorer Aurelien Collin, and celebrating in the tunnel.
The exuberance didn’t go unnoticed by the Dynamo in a series that is fast becoming a heated rivalry in MLS.
“I’ve said this since you guys have started talking about the streak, it’s given teams that come in here more motivation,” center back Bobby Boswell said. “Have you ever seen a team win a game and have a huddle after the game and go run around screaming in the tunnel and stuff like that? I haven’t. Obviously they feel they’ve accomplished something great. Credit to them for getting the result, but it’s not going to break us as a team.”
PRESS CONFERENCE: Dynamo vs. Sporting KC
Added Dynamo winger Andrew Driver: “I think that shows how well we've been doing if a team comes here and celebrates like they've won the whole thing. It shows we're a big scalp for teams and we're doing something right.”
Collin has been a thorn in Houston’s side before. In 2011 the center back managed to induce red cards on Colin Clark and Brian Ching before scoring a stoppage time equalizer against the nine-man Dynamo.
While he struggled against Houston in the 2012 playoffs, Collin returned to Houston and found a way to score what Boswell called a fluke goal in the 73rd minute and secure the first three points an away team has earned in Houston since June 18, 2011.
According to Collin, while the teams respect each other, there’s no love lost between the foes.
“We don’t like each other,” Collin said of the two teams. “In the Eastern Conference it’s a big game and it’s always a challenge from minute one to the last minute.”
After the game Houston refused to vilify Collin, but admitted that the intensity was at another level against a team they’ve come to know very well.
“I think for him to say we don’t like each other, I think it’s just a rivalry,” Dynamo left back Corey Ashe said. “It was kind of like a playoff game, but that goes with the rivalry. They obviously had something to prove.”
That rivalry showed as neither team shied away from a challenge in a match that had a playoff feel in mid-May.
“I've played in a few derbies at home and it was similar to that,” Driver said. “It was a battle most of the game. It wasn't pretty football. Obviously they got the break at the end and we've got to learn to use that in the future. We've just got to see what we did and maybe the rub of the green will go towards us next time.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.