A tough two months for the Dynamo started with a home loss. The aim now is to turn around the team’s fortunes with a home win.
Houston are 0-4-3 since the record-setting unbeaten home streak was snapped at 36 games with a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on May 12. The Dynamo are back at BBVA Compass Stadium this Saturday for a key clash with an in-form Eastern Conference rival, the Philadelphia Union (8 p.m. CT, TICKETS).
The two home league games since the Kansas City defeat brought a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution and a sell-out goalless draw with Toronto FC. A lack of goals in front of their fans is an unusual feeling for a Dynamo team that always expects to score and win on their own field.
Defender Jermaine Taylor believes that the shock of losing to Aurelien Collin’s late goal has lingered – but beating the Union on Saturday would help erase the memory and bring back business as usual.
“Since the home game that ended the unbeaten streak it’s become a problem where we've been dropping points at home. I think that's where everything started so we have to fix that first, come this Saturday,” he told HoustonDynamo.com.
“It's minor adjustments. We've been creating chances, it's just putting them in the back of the net. And we're giving up too many soft goals defensively. I think we have to fix the defensive side of it and the offensive side of it and see what happens on Saturday. We're still pretty much confident in terms of getting the job done. Every year we've had a little bit of bad form. I just hope it starts to turn come this Saturday.”
Once again the Dynamo will not be at full strength. Left back Corey Ashe and striker Will Bruin are away on Gold Cup duty with the U.S. national team and right back Kofi Sarkodie is suspended after collecting a harsh yellow card in Sunday’s 2-0 road defeat to the New York Red Bulls.
Taylor, Jason Johnson and Omar Cummings are all Jamaican internationals, while Tally Hall and Brad Davis have also recently been involved with the U.S. squad, so head coach Dominic Kinnear knows the roster could have been even more depleted this month.
“It's the way it is, it's the landscape. You want to have good players, on the other side of it you know there's a possibility they may get called in. We do have a weekend off during this Gold Cup which is helpful; I think a lot of teams do,” said Kinnear.
“We were a little bit lucky too as Jamaica didn't qualify. It’s possible we could have been hit a little bit harder. In the end you want good players and if they get called away you're really happy for them, you hope they do well, and I think it progresses some other players' development because it gives them chances… We'll get through the week and see what we come up with on Saturday.”
Rookie center back Anthony Arena has impressed this season but he has been sidelined lately with a right ankle sprain. But two experienced off-season signings, left back Mike Chabala and center back Eric Brunner, are available to bolster the depleted defense. The versatile Warren Creavalle could also fill in for Sarkodie.
Taylor himself missed several games this year with a shoulder injury and national team duty. The 28-year-old has formed a formidable partnership with Bobby Boswell at the core of the back line but is ready to move to either flank if asked by Kinnear. He’s done it before.
Last year, Taylor started at left back in a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia at PPL Park in September, and also in two 1-0 wins: the victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in March and the defeat of D.C. United in the inaugural game at BBVA Compass Stadium last May. He also made four appearances at right back in 2012 in matches that brought a win, a loss and two draws.
“I'm the type of guy where if Dom says ‘play here’ I'm going to play there. We’ve been without a couple of guys who've been injured, a couple who've been on national team duty, there've been adjustments,” Taylor said.
“Wherever I'm put to play, I'll play. I've played [left back] for a couple of seasons so I've no problems playing there. It'd be the first time this season but I should be fine if asked to play there.”
Whatever it takes to turn things around.