HOUSTON — After moving into first place with a decisive 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, it is understandable if the Houston Dynamo stop and smell the roses a bit.
However, they don’t have time to rest on their laurels. The return match of this midseason home-and-home series looms this Friday, when Houston will travel to Red Bull Arena to face the same hungry, now second-place NYRB.
HIGHLIGHTS: Houston 2, New York 0
The Dynamo are well aware of what awaits them. Houston fell at New York 1-0 on May 9, just one of many defeats the Red Bulls have inflicted on visiting teams. In fact, the Red Bulls are undefeated at home this season.
With that in mind Houston are keeping last Friday’s win in context.
“To feel too good about this win would be a little foolish,” said Calen Carr, who scored his fourth goal in his last four starts in the 28th minute against New York. “We’re going to enjoy it for sure but at the same time we’ll get ready and prepare. … We’ll be ready on Friday. New York is a tough place to play and a great team and we want to keep our momentum going.”
Houston’s win — their fifth in a row — put them on top of the Eastern Conference, tied on points with Sporting KC, who beat New England on Saturday. It also dropped the Red Bulls from first to third, which will have them even more primed for revenge.
“We are happy we are sitting in first place in the conference and now teams will be after us, which happens when you win games,” head coach Dominic Kinnear told the media. “They will be ready and it’s up to us to try and keep our place in the top of the standings.”
On a field littered with Designated Players, the one that stood out most on Friday also carried the least amount of name cache. Among stars Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, it was Houston’s DP, Boniek García, that glimmered brightest.
The creative Honduran international showed that he might fit best in the middle of Houston’s attack. He went the full 90 and created several chances for himself and others.
Still, even if he didn’t shrink in the match, he seemed in awe of his more famous opponent.
“It was extra emotional to play on par and against a great player like Thierry Henry,” García said. “I never imagined it, and thank God I had the opportunity. It’s beautiful that we were able to win and to be able to share the moment with a grand player like Thierry Henry.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.