Wednesday’s match against Toronto FC fits the “trap game” moniker to a tee for the Houston Dynamo.
Coming off a big win in the Texas Derby last Saturday night, everything seems to favor the home team in the midweek matchup. TFC come to Houston with the worst record in MLS and just one win in their last 22 road games dating back to 2011, and new head coach Paul Mariner is still tinkering with a lineup that simply hasn’t worked so far this season.
In short, the Reds have little going for them these days, but that’s exactly why there is a premium on the right amount of focus for the Dynamo.
“You just can’t get complacent and think, ‘Oh, we should win this game,’” said midfielder Adam Moffat (above). “Thinking you can do it and going out there and doing it is different and we have to go out there prepared. Dominic [Kinnear] knows what it’s like and he’ll make sure we’re focused on doing the right things to go out there and get the result.”
For Houston, to keep that quality, they cannot rely on the mantra that this is the same old TFC. Mariner has taken the reins and switched to a 4-4-2, a departure from former coach Aron Winter’s 4-3-3, and despite a loss to Sporting KC in Mariner’s debut last Saturday, Houston saw a newfound spirit in Mariner’s first match at the helm.
“They had a good game on Saturday against Kansas City and were really unlucky,” Dynamo head coach Kinnear said on Monday. “You saw their spirit with the coaching change. The honeymoon period is very bright and they’re giving all they can for the new guy.”
Beating the East
Wednesday’s match will be the start of a 14-game stretch against Eastern Conference foes for the Dynamo. With in-conference matches obviously crucial, the Dynamo are looking to start the stretch strong as they look to move up the standings.
“We’d rather get the points against the teams in the East,” Moffat said. “It slows them down a bit and you can leap frog teams and separate yourself. All these games have a little more at stake than the Western Conference games.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.