HOUSTON – If there’s a time for celebration in Houston, now’s not it.
Fresh off a 3-1 aggregate series win over the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, the Dynamo will have less than 72 hours off before the first kick of Sunday’s Eastern Conference Championship against Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park (5:30 pm ET, FOX Soccer/Deportes, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I’m a little disappointed in the way the league structured the playoff schedule,” Brian Ching said after the game on Thursday night. “I think of all the teams we maybe got the short end of the stick.”
Houston were back at training on Friday, foregoing their customary day off to get a head start on preparations for Sunday’s matchup. Sporting advanced past the Colorado Rapids in their conference semifinal matchup, finishing off a 4-0 aggregate victory on Wednesday to eliminate the defending champions.
“Kansas City is coming up on a quick turnaround,” Ching said. “They’re tough team at home, just look at the way they put away Colorado. But we’re a team that’s been playing better and better.”
The Dynamo are no strangers to quick turnarounds. When faced with less than a week’s rest in the regular season, the Dynamo compiled a 5-5-3 record, including a dramatic 3-2 win over fellow conference finalist Real Salt Lake at home on August 20 and Thursday’s 1-0 playoff win over the Union.
“I think this [game] is one of those where you just have to regroup and get ready and not worry about who’s had the most amount of rest,” Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear said on Friday. “You just have to get out there and when the ball’s rolling you just have to play the best.”
And if the Dynamo do get past Sporting, they’ll have two full weeks of well-earned rest before MLS Cup on Nov. 20 at The Home Depot Center.
“I don’t really think about that,” Houston left back Corey Ashe said. “What comes into play is who wants it more and who’ll be the better team; once kickoff starts and the adrenaline starts pumping, all the rest issues go away.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.