Dynamo set to shed defense-first road mentality in Toronto
HOUSTON – After the Dynamo have turned a three-win homestand into a jump in the standings from fifth to third, they must now head out on the road, where they have struggled for wins. In fact, the Dynamo have not won on the road since starting the season with back-to-back wins over Chivas USA and league leaders San Jose Earthquakes on March 11 and 17, respectively.
Their plan to get three points when they face a rejuvenated Toronto FC on Saturday (4:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE)? Stick to what is working.
“As much as people think we play conservative away from home, we always play to win and the way we play is always for three points,” goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley said Thursday. “We’re on a pretty good run right now and we won’t change what’s working for us.”
Speaking with Dynamo players and coaches Thursday, it was tough to gain a grasp on why things are so different on the road. For them, they approach things the same way and one thing they will certainly look to duplicate is their ability to turn a 4-3-3 designed to stop opponents into an attacking formation that tallied nine goals in their last three wins.
As the Dynamo – who will be without the transferred Geoff Cameron – attempt to gain their first win on Canadian soil, they have to duplicate that attacking success on the road where they have scored 12 goals in 11 away matches this season.
“I think we just need to keep doing what’s been making us successful which is keeping possession and getting the ball wide,” Calen Carr said. “On the road the mentality can be to defend first but I think we’ll get our chances if we continue to play well and move well off the ball.”
Hassli a familiar foe
Danny Koevermans was essential to a 3-3 draw between the Dynamo and TFC on June 20. Toronto has gone 4-1-3 since the draw but will have to keep things going without the Dutch striker, who was lost for the season to an ACL.
A potential replacement against Houston could be newly acquired Eric Hassli, who according to reports will arrive in Toronto on Friday and have his injured ankle tested to gauge his availability.
“He’s a player that thinks about scoring goals,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “We’ve played against him before and he’s a good player. [Toronto] gave us some trouble at home before and it’s another game where we’re not too happy with the way we performed and we’re looking for a better performance from us.”
Moffat feeling good
After missing last week’s three-game homestand midfielder Adam Moffat looks ready to return from an adductor strain. The midfielder has been training this week and feels ready to step back into a spot that has been held by Cameron and rookie Warren Creavalle.
“When you miss games you lose some of that match fitness, but I’m in pretty good shape,” Moffat said. “I have been training. … Hopefully it’s just a little bit of rust.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.