Winning feels good. Last week, the Houston Dynamo finally broke their winless streak against the Philadelphia Union with a slim 1-0 victory. This week, the Dynamo find themselves on the road against another Eastern Conference foe with two things on their mind - playoff positioning and a bit of revenge.
The Dynamo will face the New England Revolution (6-5-6, 24 points) at Gillette Stadium. Currently, the Dynamo sit just two points ahead of the Revs in the East, and by the end of the night could find themselves higher in the standings or on the outside looking in on the playoff spots.
Houston's seven game winless streak started in mid may against Sporting Kansas City, who snapped the nearly two year home unbeaten streak that the Dynamo had. While many thought the following match on May 18 against the Revs would be a good way to get back on track, the Revs had other plans.
New England shocked the Dynamo and fans with a 2-0 victory in a game that was high in emotion both during and after the match.
Bobby Boswell and Rev's forward Dimitry Imbongo were locked in a physical battle from the opening whistle and eventually saw Boswell sent off for a headbutt. After the Revs went up 2-0, Brian Ching was highly critical of what he saw from some of the opposing players and made some candid comments to the press after the match.
On Saturday night, Houston has a chance to go to their home and get a result. Considering Houston and New England are separated by just two points in the standings, this game is much more important than their first meeting.
New England has been getting results and have only lost one match in their last eight games. Houston has finally broken their winless streak, but questions about finishing and offensive production continue to haunt them.
Last week against Philadelphia, a win has slightly overshadowed the fact that the Dynamo looked much like the same team in those other seven winless games. Poor finishing and missed chances were plenty, and Ricardo Clark was lucky to get a second chance and score the game winning goal after missing a shot earlier in the match.
The fact is Houston has only scored three goals in their last eight games.
In order for the Dynamo to win on the road, they'll have to get some offensive production - especially from their forwards.
Will Bruin is still with the United States National Team, so Omar Cummings should continue his road back to full health with another start. In the midfield, the Dynamo will be missing their captain Brad Davis, who still is suffering from a hamstring injury. Boniek will be there providing a spark and Andrew Driver should be able to seamlessly slot in for Davis. Corey Ashe is with Bruin and the USMNT, but Jermaine Taylor has been solid filling in on the left.
Houston's quality of depth was a topic of conversation early in the year, and a match like this is a perfect test. With Taylor filling in nicely for Ashe, Cummings in for Bruin, and Driver in for Davis, the Dynamo really should be able to cover those spots and field a group of guys that can leave Foxboro with not on a point, but all three.
This match with the Revs is the first of three important games versus Eastern Conference opposition and based on the results could be a turning point on the season - but of course it could go either way.
With the loss against the Revs nearly two months ago, the Dynamo should come into this game with a little extra motivation and hopefully it's enough to capture another three points so we can feel a bit more normal again.