It’s been an especially inopportune time for the Houston Dynamo to go on a seven-game winless streak.
Since notching a 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC on July 7, the Dynamo have drawn two and lost five, including a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake this past Saturday, during which they led 1-0 before conceding two second-half stoppage time goals.
But, as head coach Wilmer Cabrera told media earlier this week, the team has to forget what’s happened before, especially with tonight’s crucial Texas Derby match. The Dynamo will host an FC Dallas team currently leading the Western Conference standings.
Cabrera talked about the importance of a “short memory when you win, and a short memory when you lose.
“If you win, you can’t enjoy it the whole time; if you lose, you can’t be sad and disappointed the whole time.”
The fact that it’s a rivalry match, combined with Cabrera’s observation that “we play better games against the toughest opponents,” could be the formula for a turnaround the Dynamo will need to get back into playoff contention. As a result of the recent skid, Houston has dropped to 10th place in the West, 10 points behind a Portland Timbers team currently holding the last playoff spot.
Cabrera knows the winning has to start now — even in a series that tends to end in draws. Five of the last six MLS regular season matches between the Texas teams, including the last four, have finished in ties.
The coach sees winning all home matches, and overall as much as possible, as essential to the Dynamo’s playoff hopes, yet he also notes, “That was the mentality against Real Salt Lake. Up until the 93rd minute, we were winning, even though we played really bad, and we recognize that.”
“It’s unacceptable from our side,” Cabrera said of a worrying trend, accentuated by last weekend’s loss, of giving up late goals. “We have to continue fighting. We cannot give up. We’re winning, and then we allow teams to come back. It just shows that we stop, and we cannot stop.”
Cabrera is buoyed by Alberth Elis’ return from suspension, noting, “We hope it’s a very good boost. We see he wants to play, he wants to come back. Now, we’ll just try to keep him on the field and have him bring what he brings to our team.”
Elis obviously brings goals and assists, with nine and eight on the year so far, but Cabrera noted that other intangibles missed in his absence, like “Speed, going 1v1, [and] diagonals,” could be what’s needed for a win that would steer the season and the ongoing rivalry in a more orange-friendly direction.