Based on odds alone, Houston Dynamo FC seemed destined to reach five games without a win Saturday night when hosting Nashville SC.

Left back Adam Lundkvist was shown a red card in the 35th minute, a decision head coach Paulo Nagamura said the club plans to appeal. They were already up 1-0 through midfielder Coco Carrasquilla’s 15th-minute opener, but midfielder Darwin Ceren contended that “in MLS it is nearly impossible to play with 10 men.”

That obstacle proved surmountable, as Houston got a 53rd-minute penalty-kick goal from Darwin Quintero to double their advantage and hold onto a 2-0 win. Consider their skid stopped, at least for now.

“It was a great team performance to play the way that they did with a man down for most of the game,” Nagamura said. “It was a very gutsy performance – that’s what I said to the guys in the locker room. It was a performance of warriors and very pleased. Very, very pleased with the performance of the team in general.”

Houston were weathering a slide after having built a five-game unbeaten streak earlier this season; two of their setbacks came against in-state rivals Austin FC and FC Dallas. Those results were particularly galling, necessitating a response.

"It was clear that we had to win,” Quintero said. “We came with three consecutive losses in the league and today there was no other option but to get three points. We had no other possibility."

The Dynamo are firmly midtable in the Western Conference standings, thanks largely to Quintero’s team-leading five goals. Focusing on small moments is key to finding consistency and climbing the standings, Ceren said.

“We need to be more attentive, more alert,” the El Salvadorian international noted. “Also that desire to show that we can be strong at home was missing. Mentally and defensively today we were always strong. We knew we had to win at home.”

Carrasquilla said the result “showed a lot of character, a lot of maturity, a lot of attitude” after playing shorthanded for more than 60% of the match. They held Nashville to just two shots despite the Coyotes owning 62% of the possession battle.

For winger Fafa Picault, this victory was a true gut check and sign of Houston’s progress in 2022.

“We have to realize that we can go into dark circumstances into matches and come out of them with three points,” Picault said. “We just have to build off of that. It's more of a testament, forget the skill, technic and tactics, it also goes into us having a strong heart and strong mentality.”