It’s been a few years since the Houston Dynamo were in a position to make a run at Major League Soccer’s Supporters Shield, an award handed out to the team that finishes with the most regular season points in the league. Although the team has won two MLS Cup titles and a third conference title since 2006, the Supporters’ Shield is one trophy that has eluded the men in orange.
Following the club’s July 3 draw with the Chicago Fire, the Dynamo sat 12 points back of the surging San Jose Earthquakes in the race for the league’s regular season crown. But with Houston’s ensuing four-game winning streak, the Dynamo have not only jumped from fifth to second in the Eastern Conference standings, but the team has shaved five points off the Earthquakes' lead and sit only seven points back in the Supporters’ Shield race.
“I don’t know if that is something that we sat down in preseason and talked about as one of goals,” Dynamo forward Calen Carr said. “However, with the change in format this year where the highest seed gets to host MLS Cup, there is a lot more value to doing well in the regular season, which I think is good.”
Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell won the Supporters’ Shield with D.C. United in 2006 and understands how difficult it is to finish first in the league.
“It’s tough because you have to be good all year,” he said. “You not only have to be good, but some things have to go your way which includes injuries and scheduling.”
Although the Dynamo have been fortunate to avoid any major injuries in 2012, the schedule has certainly not played in the team’s favor. The Dynamo played their first seven games of the season on the road waiting for BBVA Compass Stadium to open. Due to the delayed opening, the team has been forced to play more home games in a tighter window, including three in a span of seven days. By all accounts, however, the club has passed the tests given to them and are currently the hottest team in MLS.
For the Dynamo, though, the Supporters’ Shield is just an after-thought. Each player will tell you that the only thing that matters is the next game and getting into the playoffs.
“When you start getting toward the front of the standings, obviously people are going to talk about the Supporters’ Shield,” Boswell said. “For us, it’s more about going out and handling the job on the weekend and getting ready for the games ahead.”
Carr added: “We have had a bunch of games in a quick succession and it is important to put our wins behind us and to start preparing for our next opponent. We have two big games coming up against New York. It’s kind of like a mini playoff format, so we are excited for those two games and hopefully get off to a good start with a win at home on Friday.”