HOUSTON – Through the first month of the season the Houston Dynamo had been searching for that complete performance, a touchstone for the rest of their year. They finally got it on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Fire.
Throughout the opening stages of the 2013 campaign, Houston would either start slow and end well or start fast and limp to the finish line in games, leading to an up-and-down 3-2-0 record and some character confusion.
After falling apart in the second half in their loss to the Portland Timbers, the Dynamo rebounded against Chicago with a performance keyed by effort and consistency from start to finish. It’s one they feel should be the model for their play going forward.
“You can always replicate the effort,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It’s about gritting the game out and playing well, taking your chances and playing well. As long as the effort remains the same for 90 minutes we’ll be in good shape.”
Against the Fire, Houston controlled large portions of the game, which extended to outright dominance at times. They manhandled Chicago in the first 25 minutes and had the edge for the final 45 minutes. Even with a hiccup in the last part of the first half that saw Chicago rebound and even the score, the Dynamo feel that they never lost control.
“There are going to be moments in every game where they have chances,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “The key is to limit those and to know where guys are at all times. You have to make the game predictable to give your goalkeeper and defenders a chance. I thought we did well with that Sunday.”
Houston has had a lot of that control at home, as evidenced by their 35-game home unbeaten streak across all competitions. On the road it has been a different story. They struggled putting those types of performances together last year and have started on the same foot with two road losses this year.
Heading into their third road game of the season at Toronto FC next Saturday (4 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS Live in the US), the Dynamo are emboldened by their performance against the Fire and feel it could be the start of the type of performances they want to see on the road as the club looks to build a strong start to the 2013 campaign.
“Going back to that Chicago game, everybody was doing that. Everybody was a part of that game at all times, attacking and defensively,” said midfielder Brad Davis, who picked up a goal and an assist against Chicago. “I think that’s what we’re looking to do. We have to play a game like that. Going back to that complete game mentally … we need to take that on the road. That’s where we have to start.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.