Trask Smith

Dynamo want to "set the tone" for road trips in first away game

After two weeks at home, the Houston Dynamo are preparing for their first away game of the season this Saturday against D.C. United (12:30 p.m., KUBE 57).

Playing on the road has been historically difficult in MLS, and especially so for the Dynamo. In 12 seasons, the Dynamo have just 39 league wins away from Houston – about three wins per year.

“I think it’s about mentality. We just need to start the game the same way that you would start a game at home,” midfielder Arturo Alvarez said of the approach for away matches. “I think if we start on the right foot this year, and in our first test against D.C. United this weekend, getting a good result would be a good way to get a start for away games.”

The trip to the nation’s capital has historically been good for the Dynamo, with more wins in D.C. than any other road destination and a .500 record (5-5-2). It was also the site of the lone away victory of the 2017 regular season, a 3-1 result in July (the team also scored a road win in the playoffs, 2-1 at Portland).

Despite only tallying the single win on the road, the Dynamo’s performances were better and better as the season went on. Only six teams overall – and three in the Western Conference – finished with fewer road losses than the Dynamo. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera said the late surge wasn’t by accident as the team focused first on defending their home field.

“We had to set goals, and our first goal was to be strong at home, and we achieved that,” he said, as the team only lost one regular season home match. “Then, we wanted to start building on our away performances, and at the end of the season, we did it.”

With less turnover in the roster and coming off a positive season, Cabrera wants to see his team come out of the gates faster. In a highly competitive Western Conference, picking off road wins could be the difference between a playoff spot and staying home when autumn comes.

“It’s going to be important for us to start well. We have to be sure that we get back the three points that we lost at home. It’s our duty to go and get those points back on the road,” he said. “We need to set the tone now for how the Houston Dynamo are going play on the road.”