Dynamo seek early goals, first away win at Vancouver

Hunter Freeman

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HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo have been the cardiac kids in the month of August.

Houston have pulled out a result in the last 10 minutes in the three of their last four games. With a trip to the Pacific Northwest to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online, TSN2 in Canada), the Dynamo are looking to reverse that trend by going on the offensive early.

“I think the last two games we put ourselves behind the eight ball early,” said defender Hunter Freeman.

In the last five games, the Dynamo have been playing the type of attacking soccer that fans and players alike have craved. Houston have come out of the gates connecting passes and creating chances, but the early goals have been missing.

Playing from behind in three of the last four tilts, the Dynamo have shown that while they may not strike first, they have the confidence to strike last.

“The first goal does give you confidence, but the thing we’ve shown the last two games is that we don’t get too high or too low,” said Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Whatever way you win the game, whether it’s early or late, that’s the objective.”

Handling Hassli

While taking the offensive and striking first is important, the Dynamo will have their hands full with French hitman Eric Hassli. Vancouver’s Designated Player has accounted for 10 of Vancouver’s 26 goals this season but missed the first match against Houston — a 3-1 win for the Dynamo on April 10 — because of a red-card suspension.

While Hassli will be without his strike partner Camilo — who has eight of Vancouver’s goals this year — the Dynamo are well aware of how dangerous the 6-foot-4 forward can be around the net and are looking to draw on experience to handle the big striker.

“He can pull something off when you give him time and space, just like any good forward,” Freeman said. “However, we’ve played against other tall forwards in the league and we have our own guys who we practice against everyday, like Carlo [Costly], [Brian] Ching and Cam [Weaver], so it’s not anything we’re not used to.”

Breaking through

One storyline that has persisted throughout Houston’s season has been the lack of road wins. While Houston have stayed in striking distance with an 0-4-8 record away from Robertson Stadium, the club knows winning on the road is important and are eager to finally put that away win in the books and move forward.

“It’s something that we all want to erase,” Freeman said. “I thought we were close to getting it in New England. … But if we continue to play like we are, hopefully the goals will come and we’ll come out on top.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.