HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 20: Carlo Costly #29 (L) of the Houston Dynamo reacts after missing a goal opportunity as teammate Brian Ching #25 looks on in the second half of their game against Real Salt Lake at Robertson Stadium on August 20, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)
"On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again." -Willie Nelson
Something tells me the Houston Dynamo have not been singing the Willie Nelson classic this year. That said, the Dynamo are right in the thick of the playoff chase and if there was ever a game rip for the taking, it's this weekend's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
That's not meant to be disrespectful to the Whitecaps but if the Dynamo are the legitimate playoff contenders they've begun to resemble over the past month, this is a match you really have to win. The Whitecaps are 3-3-5 at home this season and like the Dynamo they haven't one on the road this season. It's not been the inaugural MLS season the Caps had been hoping for, but the desire to finish the season strong with likely only make this game more difficult.
For the Dynamo, it's a simple plan. Avoid allowing an early goal and having to play from behind and control the midfield. With Adam Moffat back after his red card suspension, this should be a manageable task for Houston...or at least we hope so.
Midfielder Luiz Camargo will available for selection for the first time since signing with the Dynamo at the end of the summer transfer window. If and when he plays will likely come down to how quickly he's integrated with the team during training this week. Dynamo fans are no doubt curious to see what Camargo can bring the to table but considering the effectiveness of Moffat and Cameron working together, the old axiom, if it ain't broke don't fix it, comes to mind.
So Dynamo fans, is this a game we should absolutely expect the team to win or are the team's struggles on the road leaving you low on confidence?
- Houston's dramatic 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake last Saturday was its second consecutive come-from-behind result and the ninth time this season the Dynamo have rallied to win or tie. Alex Dixon's dramatic game-winning goal was Houston's seventh game-winning or game-tying goal that was scored in the final seven minutes. The victory was the first time Houston has rallied to win after facing a halftime deficit.
- The Dynamo are unbeaten in the last five games (3-0-2) and have lost just once in their last 10 (4-1-5). Houston's longest unbeaten streak of the season is six games (3-0-3), from March 25-April 29. The club record for MLS unbeaten streak is 11 games, set from April 11-June 20, 2009.
- Houston midfielder Brad Davis currently leads Major League Soccer with 13 assists after notching a pair against Salt Lake for his fourth multi-assist game of the season. After posting 12 assists in league play in each of the last two seasons, Davis has set a new career high this year, doing so in the first 26 games of the extended schedule. Davis is so influential that, according to MLS stats partner Opta, he has created a league-high 84 scoring opportunities, a full 33 ahead of his nearest competitor.
- Dynamo captain Brian Ching has taken over the team lead in scoring with five goals, passing the quartet of Bobby Boswell, Will Bruin, Geoff Cameron, and Cam Weaver, each with four. Ching's goals have come in only 881 minutes (the others each have played more than 1,300), and the Dynamo are unbeaten in their last 12 games (5-0-7) when Ching starts.
- Defender Bobby Boswell has scored in consecutive games, notching a dramatic tying goal against New England on August 17 and tying the game 2-2 with a header against Real Salt Lake. Boswell has scored four goals on the season, surpassing his previous career high of three, set in his rookie season of 2005. Three of Boswell's four goals have tied the match.
- Houston has scored first in nine out of 26 games on the season; the Dynamo are 6-1-2 when notching the first goal and 2-6-7 when the opponent scores first; there have been two 0-0 ties.
- Midfielder Luiz Camargo, whose signing was announced on August 9, joined the Dynamo last Sunday and is expected to be available for selection against Vancouver on Saturday.