HOUSTON – There are two sides to the Houston Dynamo’s strong early showing in 2013.
On one side there is the sterling four-game winning streak at home to start the season that is part of a record 35-game unbeaten run. Then there is the bad side, which shows itself seemingly only on the road.
So far in 2013, the Dynamo have dropped their only two road games – at FC Dallas and at the Portland Timbers. It is a continuation of a poor 2012 that saw the club manage just 14 points away from home, a prime reason for their fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference.
It's early and there's no panic, but the Dynamo know that if they want to finish where they feel they belong and put themselves in a favorable playoff position, they need to figure out a solution.
“We know we need to get more points on the road this year than we did last year,” said Bobby Boswell. “In 2011 we didn’t win until our last two road games of the year. You obviously want to win, you want to get three points, but ties aren’t exactly losses. We’ve got to do a little bit better and we know that.”
Total points on the road have been an indicator of Houston’s success during their history. Five of Houston’s seven seasons they have finished second or higher in their conference. In those years the club averaged 18 points on the road. The other two seasons, a seventh place finish in 2010 and fifth place in 2012, the club average was 13.
Houston got a hard lesson in how a regular season can affect them in the playoffs last season. They put up 39 points at home, going 11-0-6 in the regular season and becoming just the fourth club to finish a home season unbeaten.
“We were one point away from hosting an MLS Cup,” said Brad Davis. “It’s sitting with me and it’s important for us to realize that every point makes a difference. You look back at how important points are, that’s what sets in my mind from last year.”
Now the Dynamo are looking to make sure last year doesn’t repeat itself.
“We all know our road results aren’t where we want it to be,” Davis said. “You can look at it and try and see what you can do better but you can’t change the [past] results. We know what level we can play at ... Now it’s ‘why can’t we take that on the road?’”
With six of the next nine on the road, that question could be the key to Houston’s position come the summer and possibly the playoffs.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.