The Houston Dynamo can draw motivation from any number of sources these days as they prepare to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday night (8 p.m., ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Can they avenge a stunning home loss to Colorado earlier this season? Can they finally get their first road win in nine tries this year? And can they simply keep pace with the leaders in the Eastern Conference, who have pulled away in recent weeks while the Dynamo have stalled?
“I think your motivation … comes when you look at the standings,” head coach Dominic Kinnear. “The East is very tight. If you win games, you’ll climb in the standings.”
If the Dynamo hope to keep pace with their conference rivals, they will need to start against the Rapids, who snapped Houston’s six-game unbeaten streak back on May 4. The Rapids used two goals after the 70-minute mark — including a booming Jamie Smith free kick from near midfield that somehow drifted over the head of goalkeeper Tally Hall — to erase a goal from Colin Clark and escape Robertson Stadium with a 2-1 win. The loss started a seven-game winless streak that suddenly dropped the Dynamo back in the pack in the Eastern Conference.
“It didn’t take me long to bounce back, but it did start a poor run for us, so maybe [the loss] affected the team more mentally that it did me,” Hall said. “It’s not about the personal mistake, but the way it affected the team.”
The Dynamo are also still one of only four teams in MLS without a road win this season, joining New England and expansion sides Portland and Vancouver. They’re 0-3-5 away from Robertson Stadium this season and have lost each of their last two games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“From my side, it’s a road game, and we haven’t gotten a road win yet,” Hall said. “They’re a good team, and to get a good result I think I may be called upon a couple of times, and I’m ready to make a couple of saves for the team and get us that win.”
If the Dynamo do get a result, they may have to do it without star midfielder Brad Davis (hamstring), who was listed as doubtful on Tuesday’s injury report before he returned to training Friday. Davis leads the league with nine assists this season, and scored his second goal of the year from the penalty spot in a 2-2 draw at D.C. United last weekend.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.