The Houston Dynamo are on a mission; pure and simple. Their mission which they have chosen to accept is to be better at home. Winning at home makes the difference between being in the playoffs and sitting at home watching them.
Houston had a strong outing in San Jose last week and are working to keep the momentum going as they come home to host Minnesota United FC. The follow-up game to a strong outing home or away has seemed to plague the Dynamo all season. The addition of Herrera three games ago appears to have energized and refocused the squad.
"That's one of the strengths of our team," explained Houston Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura during Thursday's press conference. "When I took over at the beginning of the year, it was clear that they are a committed group of players that want to turn this around. The arrival of Hector (Herrera) gave this group a boost and Hector got along really well with the rest of the group. He understands our mission and what we are fighting for and we are all on the same page. With his arrival, our chemistry is going to get better and better, and we are going to get stronger as a team."
Consistent winning breeds results and the Houston players are well aware that the moment to make their push up the MLS Western Conference table is now. There have been other moments where it felt like the move was about to happen and didn't. This time though according Nagamura is different.
"The team is confident after that great result and that great performance away from home," continued Nagamura. "We have to strive for imposing our game at home and getting a good result here”. Hopefully the good streak continues, and so we can string together 2 or 3 results in a row to climb the standings.”
Houston Dynamo defender Adam Lundvkist shared his head coach's opinion about this being the time. Although, he used the word hope, the tone in his voice belied confidence that this team is ready and a positive result against MUNFC is just one more step up the ladder.
"It's a huge game for us, it's been a tough stretch over the summer," echoed Lundvkist. "We had a lot of away games and a lot of tough results that really haven't gone our way. This last
game was huge in San Jose, so that really gives us great momentum to keep building on and going into this game. It's about making runs, if we can put some games together, it's a very tight table right now, and if you win a couple of games in a row, you make big jumps. This game is very important for us, especially when we have a lot of away games coming up and to have this game at home. We have to take advantage of that, we are playing in front of our fans in Houston and in the heat."
Houston sits just two points south of the playoff line. The Dynamo have lost just once in the last eight home games against their Western Conference foe Minnesota. A win on Saturday would put them just two points shy of MUNFC who sit in fourth place. All this before hitting the road next week for a match with Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia.
Lundkvist and his teammates know what is at stake Saturday night and what they need to do leave the pitch with three points.
"For us, the key is going to be to control the game and its pace," described the Dynamo's outside back. "Do not give up too many turnovers, because they are (good in transition). Playing here, we know many teams like to sit back and counter. We must be very disciplined, keep the ball moving. This is a game where we can win in the second half, we don't have to win it in the first five minutes. It's going to be hot and humid, so we know what to expect. Coming from Minnesota is not easy. We have to be patient, to move the ball and make them defend a lot to get some goals and get a good result."
Kick-off is slated for 7:30pm CT at PNC Stadium.