HOUSTON – The practice field at the Houston Amateur Sports Park was a lonely place last weekend, as the Houston Dynamo took a much-needed three-day break.
The downtime comes after Thursday’s thrilling 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake capped a rough 19-day stretch that saw the Dynamo play six games in three different countries in two competitions. In that time the Dynamo went 2-1-3 overall while battling fatigue, national team call-ups and illness, with their only loss a 3-1 setback to the Chicago Fire on Sept. 2.
With his team mentally and physically drained, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear gave the players a rare extended break away from the game.
“No question that having a weekend off was something that all the guys enjoyed,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “When you come back you’re like, ‘I want to get going, I want to be out here and working hard and getting back to our winning ways … and ready to get back with a renewed sense of purpose.’”
The break comes at a good time as things will not stay quiet for long. A busy end to September awaits, starting with Friday’s match at Sporting Kansas City, who sit five points ahead of Houston in first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Dynamo know the importance of playing well down the stretch, which will also include two more CONCACAF Champions League matches at home. In that regard, resetting their focus with some time off could be key to ensuring that they are as well prepared as possible, mentally and physically, to face the challenges ahead.
“It’s good to just recharge the batteries,” said defender Corey Ashe. “The last six are going to be a tough stretch. To have those days off for guys to recover, even just the little knocks, just to get a break to relax to get back to 100 percent is great not only physically, but mentally as well.”
Barnes getting close
New signing Giles Barnes spent the latter part of last week in Toronto at an American Embassy finalizing his visa paperwork. With that taken care of, the Englishman is officially on the roster and cleared to be selected. With his fitness inching closer to where it needs to be, the 24-year-old feels ready to take the next step.
“I don’t feel I’m that far behind the lads,” Barnes said when asked about his fitness. “I think at this point it’s just a matter of match games, if I’m honest.”
Creavalle and Moffat back at training
Houston had a few additions to the training pitch after the weekend break. Defender Warren Creavalle participated in full drills while midfielder Adam Moffat worked with the trainer on the side, ending a nearly two-week absence for each. While Creavalle and Moffat were back, there were a few missing faces, as Ricardo Clark and Mac Kandji missed training with the same flu-like symptoms that ravaged the Dynamo squad late last week.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.