One week into the 2011 season, and the Houston Dynamo are already looking to bounce back from a tough loss. The fifth-minute goal they surrendered to the Philadelphia Union in the season opener last Saturday brought back memories of defensive lapses that plagued the team in 2010.
But despite the setback, those feelings have not permeated the team as the club prepares to head to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders on Friday (9 p.m. CT, FOX Soccer, FOX Deportes, 950 AM, 850 AM).
“I’ve played enough games in this league to know you’re going to make mistakes,” defender Bobby Boswell said. “You have to have a short memory when you’re doing well and when you’re not doing well. We’ve got two tough road games coming up, and that starts this weekend with Seattle.”
That short memory will come in handy as the Dynamo prepare to play in raucous Qwest Field, where the crowd can make it difficult to execute, especially on the defensive side of the pitch. With fans chanting, yelling, standing, and clapping in unison, the atmosphere can make it tough on a visiting team’s defense to communicate and play together. It is truly a home-field advantage.
“Everyone loves playing in Seattle; they have a great supporters' group, and the environment creates a big-game feel,” Boswell said. “But it makes for a tough environment and a difficult time defending.”
Added Mike Chabala, a product of the University of Washington, “There are tons of little things that the noise makes tough. You can’t rely on the referee [to blow the whistle] or the guy behind you to get to loose balls. [The noise] makes you have to track everything down.”
Playing in the tough environment has its challenges, but it can also boost the visiting team’s energy level. Being in front of a crowd in tune with the match provides a big-game feel similar to those seen in major European leagues. It’s an environment that competitors relish.
“[The crowd] makes it difficult for defenders, but at the same time, because you can’t hear anything, guys are more in tune,” Boswell said. “So it certainly works both ways.”
Adjusting to the noisy road environment will be integral to the Dynamo defense being successful Friday night and helping the team get its first win in 2011.
“Bouncing back from the loss to Philadelphia is big for us, and it’s important for us to get a good result,” Chabala said. “At the end of the season, every point counts, and it’s important for us to get going in the right direction.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.