It’s been a rough three game stretch for the Houston Dynamo. The club’s been outscored 8-1 and has gone 0-2-1 in their last three MLS games, putting them in a tie for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As the club prepares for a crucial game hosting the New York Red Bulls, they are searching for answers in any aspect of the game to spur a move in the right direction.
“It’s possible,” head coach Dominic Kinnear responded when asked about the possibility of a tactical change. “You have to look at your lineup, your personnel and see what you feel is the best available lineup on that day and the best formation. It’s something we’re talking about now.
“We’re a 4-4-2 team pretty much, but we’ve also changed around a little bit due to personnel and we could do that again.”
Shuffling things up is something that Kinnear’s never shied away from. His move to the 4-3-3 last year helped spur a strong run of form last summer.
In their recent run of form, Houston’s encountered troubles both scoring and keeping other teams off the board. The underlying theme has been a string of games where the Dynamo have put together uneven performances.
“I think the word is inconsistent,” Kinnear said. “You talk about wanting to play a full 90, it’s difficult to do. There’s a lot that goes into the game. You have to be clued in. We keep on sending that message to the guys.”
Added goalkeeper Tally Hall: “We’ve got areas we need to improve on. We know that we’re giving up too many goals. It’s being discussed and we know it’s an important time of the year.”
That discussion is part of the Dynamo veterans' attempt to get the club back on the right track. Houston’s veteran core has been through valleys in each of the last two seasons. Both times they’ve encountered extensive downturns only to bounce back and make a run to the MLS Cup.
With another slide in form facing them, players such as Hall and captain Brad Davis know there is work to do.
“You do need a positive presence in the locker room,” Kinnear said. “You don’t just need the coach’s message; you need the player’s message as well.”
“We’re going to do our best to take care of some things and do some things to help get the group ready,” Dynamo captain Brad Davis said. “The only way to get through, like we’ve done in the past, is to stick together and keep grinding our way through. That’s what we’re going to look to do.
Whether through a shift in tactics or a player-led change, the Dynamo know that their current form is not a path to success. Starting with Sunday’s match against the Red Bulls (4 p.m. CT; TICKETS), Houston has eight games, six against teams ahead of them in the standings, to change things around.
“Destiny’s in our own hand,” Kinnear said. “If you look at our schedule, we play a lot of teams that are above us. The guys know what we have to do.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.