There are no delusions in the Houston Dynamo locker room.
On a bad run of five straight league losses in which they've been outscored to the tune of 13-0, club personnel have had to look in the mirror and acknowledge that recent play is falling short of their standard.
After two days of intense training with some hard truths being given, Dynamo players are keenly aware that with 17 games to go, the proverbial worm has to turn in order for this season to meet their expectations. As the struggle continues, the players are staving off some confidence issues and hoping that experience wins out.
“I think obviously morale’s pretty low, but there’s only one way you can go, and that’s up,” said winger Andrew Driver. “It’s been tough and nowhere near as good as it can be. We know that, and we’ve got to go and show the quality of ourselves. It’s obviously not been good enough by any means, so we’ve got to turn up on Friday and right some wrongs. There are a few doubters about our team right now, so there’s only 11 men, 18 men, 23 men that can change people’s minds.”
Changing minds is presently a tall task on both sides of the ball. Head coach Dominic Kinnear pinpointed the club’s poor play in both penalty boxes as phases in which the club needs to get better. That goes along with recent issues of turnovers committed in poor positions, and those are just two among a litany of issues that have the Dynamo searching for ways to pull out of their tailspin.
“It’s the snowball effect,” said center back David Horst. “Once the snowball starts rolling and we start to lose a little bit of confidence all over the field, guys start turning off and then we turn off more and more. That’s what’s happening right now.”
Houston's top priorities: restoring confidence and putting forth extra effort.
“We realize that to get back on track we have to work harder,” said Horst, who is working to get back to match fitness in time for Friday. “That’s what it takes to get over this hump. Right now, we need that extra 10 percent to get ourselves back on track and get back to our winning ways.”
Houston Dynamo record, 2011-14
|First 17 games||4-6-7||6-5-6||6-6-5||5-10-2|
|Last 17 games||8-3-6||8-4-5||8-5-4||TBD|
Driver takes hope from the fact that the Dynamo locker room has a number of veteran players who have been through similar issues. After all, Houston has been near or below the .500 mark halfway through each of the last three seasons (see graphic, right), only to finish on a hot streak in the second half of the season and reach the playoffs.
Amid serious, potentially season-threatening issues, Driver believes that experience will carry the team through.
“I think it’s a slight bit of lack of confidence at the moment, but that can change like that,” Driver said. “You do something right, you score a goal, might be a fluky goal, but that’s where the confidence will come. We’ve just got to stick it out. Keep working and be harder on each other. That’s the important thing. We’ve got to stand up and be counted and make sure the man next to you is as well. That’s what it’s all about.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.