Owen Coyle faces perhaps his toughest test of the 2015 MLS regular-season on Saturday evening when his Houston Dynamo side face the Robbie Keane-led LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center, but the former Burnley and Bolton Wanderers manager had told the club’s official website that he’s relishing the challenge.
Taking over in December from long-time boss Dominic Kinnear, who returned to the San Jose Earthquakes, Coyle guided Houston to a 1-0 home victory over the Columbus Crew in their season opener, although his second game in charge would prove less fruitful.
The weekend’s 1-0 loss to Kaka's Orlando City SC leaves the Dynamo bidding to rebound as they embark on the 1,500-mile trip to LA to meet the MLS Cup holders but Coyle insists that, despite their imposing line-up, he won’t be change his approach to the match.
“We still have the same belief, the same principles, that home and away we want to win games,” he said. “There’s certain ways and sometimes there will be differentials in how you achieve that, but in essence it’s still the same, still the same focus, the same attitude, same desire from the players to go and be positive and show what we can do while being very respectful of the quality we face week-in, week-out.”
After last season’s disappointing eighth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, Houston have moved into the West alongside the Galaxy for 2015, adding some extra spice to their coming encounter.
The Texas-based club also lost successive MLS Cups to Bruce Arena’s side in 2011 and 2012 and, with their weekend opponents since picking up a third title in four seasons, Coyle believes his men would be making a real statement if they can secure a positive result.
“I think every game’s exciting because particularly now every team’s improving in terms of the quality of players they’re bringing in — but there is added spice because they’re the champions,” he added.
“I’ve been there before in other leagues, you have the elite teams, and LA, there’s no doubt they’re one of the elite teams within the league. But that’s not to say we can’t go there and win and be competitive and that’s what we look to do.”
Houston will certainly have to keep Galaxy strikers Keane and Gyasi Zardes quiet on Saturday if they want to cause an upset, though, with the pair proving arguably the league’s best front two in 2014.
While Keane recorded 19 goals and 14 assists to win the MVP award, Zardes also grabbed 16 strikes of his own in his sophomore season to earn his first US national team call-up, and both have already opened their accounts this term.