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Latest loss leaves stagnant Houston Dynamo reassessing season goals

HOUSTON – The last time the New York Red Bulls won in Houston, they ended the Dynamo’s 2008 playoff run.

The Red Bulls didn’t deliver quite that level of a blow Sunday, but it did help recalibrate Houston’s one-time lofty goals.

“What we wanted to accomplish a month ago, we’re not anywhere close to where we wanted to be,” Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall said after the team’s 4-1 loss to New York. “We were talking about winning the East a month ago. It was looking very possible. We’re stagnant in one spot. The goal has been scaled back.”

The Dynamo are 0-3-1 since an Aug. 17 win over the Seattle Sounders, and are six points behind the top three teams in the East with seven games left. It’s not an insurmountable task, but it is a tall one, even for a team known for its late pushes down the stretch of the regular season.

There is, however, a bright side. Due to losses by the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union on Sunday, Houston are still tied on points for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and within striking distance of fourth.

“It’s really simple. You show up for work, you work hard and you try to improve on your last performance,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself. The easiest way to stay in [trouble] is to feel sorry about yourself and accept it, the easiest way to get out of it is to just work hard. That’s what we need to do."

From Hall’s perspective, it is time for the players to look inside in order to get back to where they feel they should be after two straight appearances in the MLS Cup.

“We’re not mad because we’re feeling like it’s slipping away,” Hall said. “We’re mad because we know we’re a good team and we’re capable of far greater than this.

“We’re going to come together,” Hall continued. “It’s not just stepping up. It’s asserting ourselves and how we can move forward.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.