The postseason is seven months away but Adam Moffat wants the Dynamo to adopt a playoff mentality against the Portland Timbers on Saturday in a bid to boost the team's fortunes on the road.
The long trip to the daunting atmosphere of JELD-WEN Field sees the focus shift from the Dynamo's record-equaling unbeaten home form to their efforts to emulate that success on their travels.
So far in 2013, Houston has won all four games at BBVA Compass Stadium but lost their two away matches, to Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League and FC Dallas in MLS. Last year, the Dynamo owned a 11-0-6 record in their backyard in the MLS regular season but were 3-9-5 on the road. Moffat wants his teammates to be inspired this weekend by the Dynamo's history of picking up big away results when it matters most, regardless of the fatigue factor involved in flying across the continent.
"There's different factors, obviously travel's a big thing here. But we know we can win at places," the midfielder told HoustonDynamo.com. "In the playoffs last year and the year before we were going to places and getting results. So I think we've just got to go in with the mindset that this is a big game, let's battle hard for this as if it's a playoff game and hopefully get the points."
In last month's Texas Derby the Dynamo clawed back a 2-0 halftime deficit only to fall to Kenny Cooper's last-gasp winner.
"We were disappointed with the last result in Dallas, some uncharacteristic goals and then we get ourselves back in it and were a little bit sloppy in the end," said Moffat. "We know how good we are at home and if you're that good at home there's no reason why you can't do that away from home. So we want to try and replicate that on the road. And we know in this league, mostly, home teams get the points - we know that. But we're a good team and know what we're capable of. "
With the Montreal Impact taking the weekend off, the Dynamo know that a win in Oregon will move them into a tie with the Quebec club for first place in the Eastern Conference. Houston currently sits second in the division, a point ahead of Sporting Kansas City, who have played a game more and host D.C. United on Friday.
Asked to assess the Dynamo's performances over the first month of the season, head coach Dominic Kinnear believes his charges have made a solid start thanks to roster depth that has enabled them to cope with a challenging spread of six games in four weeks. As well as the two-legged CONCACAF quarterfinal against Santos, three of the Dynamo's first four MLS fixtures were against teams who reached the playoffs last year.
"We've had contributions from a lot of people, which we expected to happen," Kinnear said. "But from what we've seen it's probably gone a little bit better than maybe expected for the first month with the amount of games that we've played. I think a lot of guys are playing well and the team is definitely getting rewards from that."
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian as well as SI.com.