A point of emphasis for the Houston Dynamo this year has been getting off to quick starts.
Considering Chicago’s tendency to play tough defense late at home, achieving that quick start could be their key to success Sunday in a match against the Fire (6 pm CT; Galavision) that has major playoff implications.
The Fire have conceded just 11 goals in 12 matches at Toyota Park, including just three in the second half. Knowing the type of late, lockdown defense Chicago can put up, the Dynamo know starting strong will go a long way to getting the full reward against a team just one point behind them in the standings.
“It’s taken us a little bit to get into games this year for some reason so putting together that complete performance is very important for us,” Dynamo captain Brad Davis said. “For us to get out on Chicago early is very important ... Mentally we have to be ready to go and get on top of this team right away.”
Houston has struggled on the whole with quick starts this season but know how important they can be. During an eight match unbeaten streak they scored first in six matches, benefitting from making teams chase the game.
“It’s something we’ve talked about,” said Calen Carr. “It’s going to be a tight game and one chance can sway the result. You always want to get off to a good start especially on the road and Chicago’s a good team and a tough place to play. We’ll be ready to go.”
On Sunday, they will have to do the same especially in light of Chicago’s stiff defense.
“The one thing they do is, defensively, they’re very smart and strong and they put a lot of numbers behind the ball and they break well,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “They don’t give away too much. The space between the back, the midfield and the front is very tight.”
Knowing where they stand
While every match is important, contests take an added meaning this time of year. With just one point separating Houston and Chicago in the standings, Davis and the Dynamo know how important it is understand the situation.
“That’s one thing I wanted to address before this game to make sure everybody should take a look at the standings and see where we’re at,” Davis said. “Everybody should know how tight it is and we’re not guaranteed a playoff spot. We’ve got eight games left in the year with a conference this tight every point is crucial right now.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.