The Houston Dynamo just set an MLS record for home-field dominance. It's been a different story for them as the visiting club.
Houston will try to avoid losing its first three road games Saturday when it faces an improving Toronto FC side.
With captain Brad Davis setting up Will Bruin's goal before netting the go-ahead score late in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Chicago, Houston (4-2-0) set a league record for the longest home unbeaten streak in all competitions at 35.
"If you don't have a good team, you don't have that record," coach Dominic Kinnear told the Dynamo's official website. "We have won and tied games in all different fashions. And the one thing that I never question is the team's attitude or their desire to try. This team, this group just really hates to lose and that is a good trait to have."
That may be, but it hasn't helped on the road, where the Dynamo are 1-8-2 since defeating Toronto 2-0 on July 28.
"We know we need to get more points on the road this year than we did last year," said defender Bobby Boswell, referring to Houston winning just two of its final 19 road games of 2012 including the playoffs.
"In 2011, we didn't win until our last two road games of the year. You obviously want to win, you want to get three points, but ties aren't exactly losses. We've got to do a little bit better and we know that."
The Dynamo's victory in their only game at BMO Field last season was their first in six visits, but Toronto (1-2-3) is 1-0-2 at home this season. The Reds haven't opened with a four-game home point streak since going 6-0-4 to start 2010.
Toronto was denied a season-best fourth straight victory in Houston's last visit, and that started a season-ending 0-10-4 skid that left the club at the bottom of the MLS table with 23 points.
Toronto, though, seems to be heading in the right direction – and possibly toward the club's first playoff berth - under first-year coach Ryan Nelsen.
The Reds have posted three straight draws, but the latest one - 1-all at Philadelphia last Saturday - could have been costly. Ashtone Morgan's ejection in the 88th minute led to the Union's game-tying goal, and Darel Russell left in the seventh minute with hamstring tightness.
Toronto could be without Russell and defender Richard Eckersley, who sat out last Saturday due to a hamstring injury suffered the previous week celebrating the game-tying goal against FC Dallas. Rookie Ryan Richter could get his first MLS start after replacing Russell at Philadelphia.
"If the opportunity's mine this weekend, I want to try to cement myself in that spot," he said.
Houston's backline has concerns and now has to face Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw, who is tied for the MLS lead with five goals. All other Toronto players have combined for three.
"You can watch everything on video but it's not until you play against someone that you really get to see what they're capable of," Boswell said. "We've got to make sure we're ready. He's very opportunistic, it seems like he creates stuff but he also feeds off mistakes and we've got to make sure we just don't make any of those."
Houston midfielder Boniek Garcia could return after missing two games with left Achilles' tendinitis.
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