HOUSTON – When the Dynamo take the field at Livestrong Sporting Park Wednesday night, don’t expect much change in the way Dominic Kinnear’s side approaches the match.
Much has been made about Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes’ comments both during and after the first leg about Houston fouling to break up play. What Vermes sees as a tactic to disrupt SKC’s rhythm and chop up the game, the Dynamo see simply as playing the game with a high intensity level.
“It’s obviously not something we talk about, but maybe in games it comes out like that,” Houston midfielder Adam Moffat said. “Sometimes games are like that. It’s chippy. The field wasn’t great and the ball’s bouncing around a lot, so there was a lot of mistiming on challenging, but it’s definitely not tactical on our end. That’s just the way it happens sometimes.”
Kinnear has been adamant this postseason that a key for the Dynamo is how they react when the ball turns over. To be successful, especially against Sporting, Houston must react quickly to snuff out counters and win the ball back.
His troops have gotten the message loud and clear and it’s helped Houston win back-to-back playoff games against Chicago and Kansas City.
“If they win the ball, we want to put pressure on,” Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “We want to win the ball back. We want to have the ball. I don’t think it’s a surprise that when we lose the ball we’re trying to pressure it and get it back.
“We don’t go in there saying, ‘Hey, let’s foul them.’ It’s just the way the games go,” Hall continued. “It’s a Dynamo-Sporting Kansas City game. It’s going to be intense across the way. I guess the secret’s out. When we lose the ball, we want the ball back.”
Whether SKC's comments amount to gamesmanship or a true appeal, the message has fallen on deaf ears in the Houston camp as the Dynamo are intent on sticking to what has them a game away from a return to the Eastern Conference Championship.
“From the get-go, I think we go out there and try and play the same way and try and get a goal ourselves,” Houston's Brad Davis said. “Still have that mentality of getting forward, but being smart about it. If we take what we put together at home this last game in KC, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.