The Houston Dynamo have not made it a secret in 2013: They want to be one of the elite teams throughout the MLS regular season and place higher up the East table than their fifth-place finish from 2012.
But if they're going to get there, the Dynamo know they need to beat the teams below them in the standings, something they haven't always done. On Wednesday night, they take on the worst team in the league as D.C. United (1-6-1, 4 points) enter the match on a five-game losing skid (MLSsoccer.com free Stream of the Week, 7 pm ET).
“Sometimes we’ve done well against the teams on top of the table and sometimes we’ve struggled against teams on the bottom," said veteran Houston defender Bobby Boswell. "Some people say that’s our mentality but I think it’s the other team as well.
Highlights: HOU 1, COL 1
"Teams are good enough no matter where they are in the standings that if you don’t show up and put in the work and fight from minute one you could find yourself on the wrong end of the score line.”
READ: Houston's Kinnear has difficult decisions to make heading into DC
Last season Houston dropped points against the likes of the Portland Timbers, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union, all teams that missed the playoffs. Of 30 available points against the six worst teams in the league, the Dynamo took 18 (or 60 percent). Compare that to the Supporters' Shield winning San Jose Earthquakes who took 27 of 36 available from the same six teams (75 percent).
This year the Dynamo were seconds away from losing to the second-from-bottom club, Toronto FC, and a week later they had their hands full at home against an injury-ravaged Colorado Rapids side.
Highlights: LA 0, HOU 1
“I think the important thing to take away from the Colorado game is we didn’t show up to play in the first half and found ourselves down a goal at the half,” Boswell said.
After struggling to start strong against both TFC and Colorado, Houston sought to rectify the issue against the defending champs in LA last weekend. Houston eventually ratcheted up the pace and took the game to Galaxy. Their reward was a 1-0 victory, their first regular season win on the road since July 2012.
“We need to go in there thinking they’re going to come out and do their best and we need to go out there and match their intensity,” captain Brad Davis told MLSsoccer.com Tuesday. “Take the game to them and don’t let them take the game to us.
“I think we did that against LA after the first 20 minutes or so, but we found ourselves and we didn’t back down whatsoever,” Davis continued. “We got over that hump and got our first road win and now there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to go in there and get another win [Wednesday] night.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.