The Houston Dynamo have tied the MLS record for the longest home unbeaten streak, but translating that staggering success onto the road continues to be a challenge.
They're hoping a change in mentality can begin making a difference.
The Dynamo attempt to win as the visitors for just the second time in 17 regular-season tries Saturday night when they face the winless Portland Timbers.
Houston (3-1-0) beat San Jose 2-0 last Saturday, extending its home unbeaten streak to 34 games in all competitions to equal the league record set by Salt Lake from 2009-11.
"You don't get anything for it," coach Dominic Kinnear told the team's official website. "You don't get a T-shirt or a hat or a ring for it. You get a lot of points and get asked a lot of questions and a lot of satisfaction on a week-to-week basis, but in the end it goes down in a statistical record book.
"Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful accomplishment and I'm glad I'm part of the group that's done it, but there is still a lot of stuff to be thought about as well."
Part of that stuff has to do with the Dynamo's road struggles, which may have cost them championships. They've dropped the last two MLS Cups at Los Angeles, and are 1-10-5 over their past 16 regular-season matches as the visitor, including a 3-2 defeat at Dallas on March 17.
Houston has gone 3-3-1 on the road over the last two postseasons, so it's hoping that success holds the answer to its issues during the regular season.
"In the playoffs last year and the year before we were going to places and getting results," midfielder Adam Moffat said. "So I think we've just got to go in with the mindset that this is a big game, let's battle hard for this as if it's a playoff game and hopefully get the points."
The Dynamo are 2-0-1 in three all-time meetings with the Timbers (0-1-3), winning 2-0 in their only visit to Portland on Oct. 14, 2011. However, the teams played to a scoreless draw in Houston on May 15 in the lone matchup last year.
Giles Barnes joined Houston three months later, but he's only now starting to make an impact, scoring a goal in each of the last two games. He's forming a strong partnership up top with Will Bruin, who scored his first goal of the season against the Earthquakes after getting a career-high 12 last year.
The Timbers have allowed the most goals in the Western Conference with eight, and six have come in the first half. They've also surrendered the opening goal in each game this season, a trend that continued last Saturday at Colorado. Midfielder Will Johnson, though, scored twice to erase a two-goal, second-half deficit to salvage a 2-2 draw.
"I think it is a mental thing," first-year coach Caleb Porter told the team's official website. "I think we need a breakthrough, in all honesty. I'm new, these guys are new and we're all competitors and we all want to win and we haven't won and so it creates a bit of frustration."
Darlington Nagbe hasn't scored since a season-opening 3-all tie with New York on March 3. He's has only one shot on goal in three games since - none in the last two.
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