After a slow start to the 2020 season and just six goals scored in their first six games, the Houston Dynamo have found their groove of late and they are currently on a three-game winning streak that has seen them score 10 goals and twice beat Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City.
The Dynamo followed up their shock 5-2 win over SKC at Children’s Mercy Park on August 25 by coming from behind to down Sporting 2-1 on Saturday night in Houston. With the importance of every win magnified in a condensed season, Houston head coach Tab Ramos noted just what those two wins in particular meant to the team.
“The last time we beat them, I know that we scored five goals, and I know that it seemed like a better game, but sometimes it’s not as hard to win a game when no one expects a lot from you," Ramos said in his postgame press conference. "And I think that's the moment — they were in first place and we were in last place and at that point maybe they're not mentally prepared for you, but I think today they knew who we were.
"They knew they were playing a good team, and obviously we know we're playing a great team and I think that's why, for me, today's win is the most important one we've had so far.”
Highlights: Houston vs. Sporting KC
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City | September 5, 2020
The two Dynamo comeback goals came from Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas — both players who have been dealing with injuries and getting limited playing time as a result. Elis scored one minute after subbing into the game in the second half and Manotas followed suit, scoring five minutes after coming on.
Their return to full health and regular action adds to the competition for the Dynamo forward spots and Ramos believes "they know that, and I think that's what makes them go as hard as they can.”
Sporting Kansas City held Houston at bay for most of the match, but they knew all along that the Dynamo attackers would be pouring forward in search of an equalizer and an eventual winner. Not only did SKC start right back Graham Zusi at right wing in order to help contain Houston, but they also shifted to a 5-man backline later in the match.
"I thought for 60 minutes of the game, we were pretty organized," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said postgame. "Obviously, we got the goal and that took a little pressure off. I would state that we started to probably get a little tired. I tried to make some subs. I tried to change the team around. We went to five in the back to try to deal with (Houston's attack). We knew what was going to happen. We knew they were going to come forward with a lot of people. We couldn't close the game out, unfortunately."
Houston's run has seen them move up to third place in the Western Conference (13 points) with two upcoming away matches at the Colorado Rapids (Sept. 9), who have been struggling to find their form this season, and at FC Dallas (Sept. 12), who are historically a strong side to beat at Toyota Stadium.
In the West, the Dynamo are chasing No. 1 team Sporting KC (17 points) who have some recovery time before they have to face Minnesota United on Sunday, Sept. 13.