This weekend's penultimate Houston Dynamo home match at Robertson Stadium is a fairly simple affair. Houston must control the suddenly dangerous Dominic Oduro and the rest of the improving Chicago Fire or their playoff hopes will take a serious realism torpedo.
DC United's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union last night helped but they still have games in hand on the Dynamo so with only three matches, a total of nine possible points, on the table, it's get points or get golfing for Houston. Easy right?
Can the Dynamo win? Absolutely, their home form of late has been good and the team should have good confidence coming off their first away victory in Frisco last weekend. The key tomorrow will be shutting down a Chicago team that's shown the propensity to score goals of late (nine goals in three matches) and haven't lost in three matches.
More importantly, the Dynamo must deal with their speed. Houston was able to deal with FC Dallas' speed through a combination of determination and dumb luck, so it stands to reason they'll need much of the same tomorrow afternoon at Robertson. Let's be honest here, the last thing any Dynamo fans want to see is Oduro torching Houston for a couple goals, but that is a real possibility.
In case you are wondering, trading Oduro was the right decision for the Dynamo and it will always be the right decision. Whatever success he's had since leaving certainly speaks to the talent many saw in him, but for whatever reason that success was not going to be found in Houston. He needed the change of scenery, a new system, a different voice telling him what he should be doing. Just accept that point and it makes is double-digit goal total this season a good deal lest frustrating.
No matter what happens, nothing concrete will be determined after 90 minutes against the Fire. What we will know is how difficult the road to the playoffs is for the Dynamo and how much help they will need from outside sources.
By the way, I spent at least ten minutes trying to jam as many puns in to the headline as I could. You're welcome.
My Predicted Lineup:
Ashe - Boswell - Cameron - Hainault
Cruz - Camargo - Davis
Carr - Ching
- Houston leads the all-time series between the teams 6-3-2 and is 6-1-1 in their last eight meetings. The last three matchups at Robertson Stadium have produced one-goal Houston victories by progressively increasing scorelines (2-1 in 2008, 3-2 in 2009, 4-3 in 2010).
- The Dynamo's 87th-minute goal last Saturday was the 10th time this season Houston has scored in the final 11 minutes to win or tie a game, including six of the last nine. The goal was Geoff Cameron's fifth of the season, tying his career high in all competitions set in 2009 and tying him for the team lead.
- Midfielder Brad Davis is one of the leading candidates for Major League Soccer's MVP award, thanks in-part to his 14 assists, tied for the league lead. In addition to the assists, however, Davis leads the league by a wide margin in chances created, according to MLS stats partner Opta. While starting all 31 games, Davis has created 104 chances, 41 more than second-place Mauro Rosales of Seattle. Davis' deadly set-piece delivery is part of the equation, as 55 of the 104 chances have come from free kicks, but Davis still leads the league with 49 chances created from open play. He has been involved in six of the Dynamo's 10 late tying or winning goals this year.
- Brazilian midfielder Luiz Camargo has started the last three MLS games for the Dynamo, and the team has posted a 2-0-1 record in those contests. The insertion of Camargo has allowed Geoff Cameron to shift to center back and has, for the last two games, pushed Andre Hainault to right back. The Dynamo have allowed just one goal from open play in three games with Camargo in midfield.
- Goalkeeper Tally Hall made four saves in the win against Dallas to post his first shutout since July 9 and his fifth of the season. Hall is tied for fourth in MLS with 10 wins on the season. In all competitions, Hall has posted 10 career shutouts and is likely to make his 50th start for the Dynamo on Saturday.
- Houston has scored first in 11 out of 31 games on the season; the Dynamo are 7-1-3 when notching the first goal and 3-8-7 when the opponent scores first; there have been two 0-0 ties. Houston's 10 results when allowing the first goal are the most in MLS; the Dynamo's winning percentage when allowing the first goal (.361) ranks third.