Welcome to another edition of Monday Morning Centre Back
The Dynamo drew 2-2 with the Columbus Crew last night, coming back from a goal down late to equalize and then holding on late as the Crew came close to becoming the first MLS team to win at BBVA Compass Stadium. It wasn't the reaction match I was hoping for after last week's loss to New York, but it's a point and the Dynamo offense looked sharp, especially in the first half.
Ok, mostly sharp. Macoumba Kandji continues to drive opposing defenders nuts with his speed and runs, but his finishing is so amazingly inconsistent at best, you can understand why a guy with his potential has bounced around the league. He's still important and having him out there makes everyone better, but if he could just put the ball in the net on a more consistent basis, the Dynamo might have the most potent offense in MLS.
Once again we saw speed challenging the Dynamo defense, but I guess we've gotten to the point where we're just used to that happening. Both Crew goals came on quickly executed counter attacks that caught the Dynamo defense way too far up the pitch. No disrespect to Eddie Gaven and his illustrious beard, but seeing your defense beaten by Gaven on a breakaway doesn't exactly instill confidence. That said, it happens and honestly it might have been worse if not for Tally Hall.
So we've got a point and a little bit of momentum back, but now things get tough. The CONCACAF Champions League schedule begins Wednesday for the Dynamo with a trip to El Salvador to face CD FAS. The Tigres, not that Tigres of course, are currently only three games into their season and sit mid-table in the Primera División de El Salvador.
Olimpia, the other team in the Dynamo's CCL group, and FAS have already played their first CCL match against one another. Olimpia thumped FAS 3-0 and now sit atop the group so FAS will be looking to get things back on track on Wednesday. That's honestly all I really know about them.
I apologize if this seems wholly unfulfilling but it's really hard to find decent information about club teams from El Salvador, even in the modern internet age. I'm hoping to have some better info before the match Wednesday, but we'll see.
As for the Dynamo, last night's Crew match begins a stretch of 6 matches in 19 days. During that time the Dynamo will travel to El Salvador, Honduras and Chicago, along with three home matches. Not only will the two CCL matches go along way towards determining the team's fate in that competition, that match against the Fire is a huge Eastern Conference game in terms of playoff positioning. Essentially, Houston's depth and fitness are about to be tested to the extreme.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the next two and a half weeks could go a long way towards determining the fate of the Dynamo's season. If they can survive their Central American travels and keep getting good league results, they'll be positioning nicely for the September run to the playoffs. If the wheels start to fall off, they'll have to count on their home CCL matches to salvage that competition and Montreal and DC to continue to be inconsistent.
I doubt the Dynamo will miss the playoffs, but staying in third or higher is a big deal to avoid the extra wild card play-in match. A successful run in the Champions League is important. This is where everyone is going to earn their money.