Heading into a crucial battle with the Chicago Fire, the Houston Dynamo are looking for something they’ve rarely lost: fire.
Last week in a 5-0 loss to the Montreal Impact the Dynamo lost that fire. Instead of bringing their usual toughness and willingness to attack the game, the Dynamo felt they sat back too often and let the Impact bring the game to them. The result was another blow on the road.
Against the Fire on Sunday (2 p.m. CT; CSN Plus, UniMas), they’re looking to learn from their mistakes and to bring the game to the hosts from the opening whistle in a match with heavy implications on the standings.
“I think against Montreal we were a little too nice, a little too soft getting into tackles,” forward Will Bruin said. “I think we need to get some bite on the road. Get into guys, get into tackles and set the tone on the road. We need to let them know it’s going to be a tough game.”
That was the message from head coach Dominic Kinnear during Friday’s training. The Dynamo boss put his team through its paces during the session and made sure to drive home what he feels the Dynamo were lacking.
“To be focused at all times,” Kinnear replied when asked about his message during the day's training. “When the ball turns over you can’t dwell on it because it’s a turnover sport. I think we’ve showed good spirit but have been a little inconsistent. With 10 games left you’re not allowed to lose focus for one minute.”
It’s a position Houston is not usually in. The hyper-competitive squad has been known for their willingness to get stuck into tackles and push opponents and work to get the ball back.
Rekindling that against the Fire will be imperative as Chicago has made some key additions since the teams last met at BBVA Compass Stadium a month ago. The Fire have added several players, including Uruguayan Arevalo Rios who Kinnear picked out when asked about the Fire for “adding steel” to Chicago’s midfield.
Rios and additions such as Mike Magee have turned Chicago into one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference and put them just two points behind Houston in the standings and a road block on Houston’s path to the playoffs.
“With the league coming into its last third every game’s going to be massive. This is probably the biggest game of our season so far,” said Andrew Driver. “This is one of those games you want to go and prove everyone wrong.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.