For the Houston Dynamo, Saturday afternoon at PPL Park will be about them. The Philadelphia Union have their attention, yes, but in the midst of their first three-game losing streak since losing four straight in 2010, the Dynamo know the only way out is to turn their focus inwards.
That focus is what Houston is hoping provides them with something they have rarely felt early in 2014.
“Once you start getting results on the road you start to get comfortable,” said left back Corey Ashe. “Just to manage the game and be smart and stop making so many mistakes. In the playoffs we do a good job of imposing our will on teams, we just need to translate that to the regular season and where we treat every game like a playoff game, especially on the road where it’s important to get results.”
It is just five games into the season, but comfort was not supposed to be an issue for Houston this season. After making moves to keep their core group intact, experience and familiarity were expected to be strengths for the Dynamo.
Injuries and suspensions have been part of the issue for Houston so far, as well as hurt confidence from some tough results. That, coupled with a string of up and down performances, foiled their plans.
“I think the games that we’ve lost we’ve had spells where we’ve played some good stuff,” said forward Will Bruin. “Obviously the results aren’t going the way we’d like, but every single year this team will go through bad droughts. I’d rather do it now than come summer or later. Once we figure it out and get a result it’ll be like a waterfall and we’ll starting play more confident and free and getting more wins.”
Bruin and Ashe both spoke about using the “basics” to get things going again. Those include the Dynamo fallbacks of hustle, pressure and wide play. Also, there is an emphasis on limiting what Bruin called the “stupid” mistakes that can make life tougher on the road.
Standing in their way this weekend will be a team in similar position, as the Union has just one win this season. However, the weekend hosts will not be a pushover.
Houston knows the danger Andrew Wenger—who scored on his Union debut last weekend—can be with his runs and could have the under-the-radar move of the offseason patrolling their central midfield.
“I think the northeast and Toronto [F.C. signings] and Eddie Johnson were kind of stealing the headlines but I think it’s a really good pick up for the league and for Philly,” Kinnear said of the Union picking up Maurice Edu. “I think he adds that he holds the position down well and is good on the ball and makes good, dangerous runs from midfield and he’s good on set pieces.”
Getting their confidence and comfort back will be important as the trip to Philadelphia and then to New York to face the Red Bulls midweek could prove to be either a launching pad or a sinkhole early in the Dynamo season.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.