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Houston rekindles fighting spirit in win

There was a collective exhale in the Houston Dynamo locker room after Saturday’s win over Chivas USA. With pressure mounting over the team’s seven-game winless streak, the 2-1 triumph provided a sigh of relief for a team looking to rekindle its fighting spirit.

“It’s huge,” said Hunter Freeman after the win. “We’d gone seven games without a win, and we needed it.”

“We haven’t won in a while, and [the win] takes a lot of pressure off,” added head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We put that on ourselves, to win every game.”

The game got off to an awful start for the home team with a Bobby Boswell goal being waved off and a Freeman gaffe leaving Houston chasing an early Chivas lead. From the early moments, it started to shape up as the next chapter in a line of tough results.

“The frustration was building after having the goal taken away and then giving up one, but I give the guys credit,” said Kinnear. “We came in the locker room even and pretty determined.”

That determination was aided by Geoff Cameron’s 29th-minute equalizer. And while the goal pulled them back into the match, the breakthrough happened 11 minutes into the second half when the Dynamo received something that players feel they have lacked lately: a break.

It came when a well-placed Brad Davis corner kick resulted in a Heath Pearce own goal that gave the Dynamo a 2-1 lead. Despite some late scares, Houston was able to hold onto the result and put its recent struggles on hold.

After a week of talking about rediscovering their “toughness” and “winning mentality,” the result leaves the Dynamo with positive momentum going forward. The win puts Houston in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference (pending the Columbus Crew's match on Sunday) and keeps them firmly in contention for an automatic playoff spot.

“That was the talk for us last week in San Jose,” said Cameron. “We wanted to get that fighting mentality back, and I think we did that tonight.”

Now the task switches from getting a win to building on the momentum gained from the result and establishing a strong hold on a playoff spot in the East. But in the short term, the Dynamo are just happy to leave Robertson Stadium with their heads held high.

“It’s a huge win for us with Philadelphia tying and New York winning last night and just for our overall psyche,” Kinnear said. “It’s nice to be able to enjoy our Sunday for a change and look forward to Monday.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.