With Adam Moffat’s 90th-minute Sunday against the Chicago Fire the Houston Dynamo snapped a 370 minute goal drought on the road. With the playoffs on the line and four of their last nine matches on the road, the Dynamo hope to make that the trend in order to reach the playoffs.
Goals for Houston have been tough to come by this summer. Since June 1, the Dynamo have played nine games away from BBVA Compass Stadium in all competitions. In those games, the Dynamo have tallied just four times and have been outscored 16-4.
By comparison, the Dynamo have scored 14 in their last nine games at home.
“It’s tough. It’s more mental,” said forward Will Bruin about going on the road. “When you’re on the road you don’t get as many chances. We’ve been getting chances early. It’s just converting those chances. It’s just about coming out of the gates in the first 15 minutes and setting the tone.”
Bruin has had clear chances in the first 15 minutes in the last two MLS road games. Against the Montreal Impact he couldn’t find the touch on an early chance in a game that ended 5-0. Sunday, Bruin again had a chance early, this time thwarted by the outstretched foot of Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a 1-1 draw.
Both times Bruin could have changed the course of the game, but it wasn’t to be.
The good news is that it shows Houston can create chances—Houston’s averaging 13 chances in their last eight road games. It provides confidence that the Dynamo can create away from home.
“It’s the same in every league. Going away from home is just harder,” said midfielder Andrew Driver. “I don’t think its mentality; it’s just the way the games have gone. We know that if we perform the way we can, we can go into any game and beat any team in the league. We’ve got to believe in ourselves, that’s the most important thing.”
What could help Houston is that their remaining road games are against the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, the New England Revolution and D.C. United. Outside of the Revolution, which is the stingiest defense in MLS allowing just 25 goals this season, those are teams that are prone to conceding goals.
That means chances there will be chances for Houston to score. The question is: how do they get them to hit the back of the net? Coming up with that answer could be the key to Houston’s playoff fate. It’s a challenge the veteran club is ready to meet head on.
“I feel like this is a team that thrives off this time of year,” captain Brad Davis said after Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. “We’ve got to get back to that playoff mentality. We’ve got to get ourselves right and the ball has to bounce our way. Fighting and scraping for everything and putting them under pressure.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.