HOUSTON – Back on May 8, the Houston Dynamo trounced cellar-dwellers D.C. United 4-0. The game was all that was right with the club – the attack was clicking and the defense was strong.
In the six weeks since, the Dynamo have been unable to duplicate that performance, and heading into a home game with Toronto FC on a five-game winless streak, the club knows it's time to turn things around is now.
“It’s been four or five games since we’ve won, so in my mind, it’s a must-win,” Houston striker Will Bruin said. “Personally, I think [it’s a must-win] and that’s the consensus around the team. You never panic, we’re not panicking, but this is a big game for us to try and get back on the right track.”
While the playoff race is not in the balance, Bruin’s point resonates. The Dynamo have been outscored 7-2 in their last five games and have lost their only two games in BBVA Compass Stadium history during that stretch.
In the match with TFC, Houston has a chance to right several of those wrongs on Saturday night (9 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
“We want to get back to our winning ways,” said midfielder Brad Davis on his first day back with the team following a near month-long USMNT absence. “It’s been a little while. Guys are on edge getting ready for this game tomorrow. It hasn’t been the best stretch for us and we know that.”
One area where the pressure has started to mount is on the offensive side of the ball. Houston’s ability to get chances is not lacking, as they created 18 chances in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Impact on Wednesday, but the ability to hit the target has slipped away from the Dynamo is recent weeks.
“It’s not like we’re not getting chances, we’re just not putting them in the back of the net,” Bruin said. “That’s just something that once we get that first one the floodgates will open up a bit.”
Davis, who’s coming off a good run of form with the USMNT, could be looked to as a spark for a team that is looking to turn things around against a struggling TFC side that’s allowed seven goals in their last five games.
“There’s always pressure to score more goals, it doesn’t have anything to do with me being away and coming back into the mix at all,” Davis said. “You’re always looking for ways to get that edge to try and find ways to hit the back of the net.”
“It’s been a little while since we’ve won a game so we want to get that feeling back in the locker room and get everyone’s confidence back going again."
In addition to Davis, Houston stands to get a potential boost in the attack with the return of Boniek García from international duty, although he picked up a hamstring injury while away. His status is currently unclear.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.