Returning to the practice field on Tuesday for the first time since Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Philadelphia, there was one notable element missing from Houston Dynamo training: panic.
Coming off a tough setback to the Union, the Dynamo went through an intense session, including a short field game that had its share of hard, physical moments. But after training, one thing was clear: The club is focusing their energy on looking forward rather than clinging to the past.
“It’s part of the game, and part of being a pro is moving on and putting that behind you,” Brad Davis said about focusing on the task at hand. “It’s one of those things where you can’t ride the highs and you can’t ride the lows. It’s about coming out the next week and doing whatever it takes, and tuning in and trying to get better, and being ready for the weekend.
“You have to take it personally and feel bad about it after the game, but honestly, you have to move past it,” the Dynamo captain continued. “You can’t stay with the negative thoughts. We have to continue to work hard and that’s what our group’s going to do for us.”
The calm and focus, however, does not come without urgency and an understanding of where they stand. The Dynamo know exactly what their situation is and what lies ahead. Having won just one of their last seven league matches, the men in orange have slipped dangerously down the Eastern Conference standings and must earn positive results quickly in order to secure a playoff spot.
The club is looking to use its experience and leadership, which was a big part of its success down the stretch last year, to push through the stretch run.
“If you talk about the last game, you take time out and not prepare for [the next one],” said head coach Dominic Kinnear after training on Tuesday. “We have to concentrate on what we’re doing. If we win games we’re going to be in the playoffs. It’s simple as that.”
With four regular-season matches left, the good news for Houston is that they still hold their fate in their own hands. Taking care of business in three straight upcoming home games is essential before they finish the season with a trip to Colorado.
But being ready for that stretch will take some focus – and yes, urgency – for a team looking to rekindle the summer form that put them on top of the table.
“We can’t just keep saying ‘next week, next week,’” said Will Bruin. “We have to do something about it now. It’s everyone, it’s the mentality every day, and then the results will take care of themselves. But we have to do it now.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.