BRIDGEVIEW, IL - SEPTEMBER 02: Macoumba Kandji #9 of the Houston Dynamo passes against the Chicago Fire during an MLS match at Toyota Park on September 2, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire defeated the Dynamo 3-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
What really needs to be said about this game that hasn't already been thought or said. The Dynamo are slumping, having gone 0-2-2 since briefly taking over first place over a month ago, and they're in the midst of a fight for a playoff spot. They need a result tonight and it's going to be damn difficult thanks to a combination of factors.
First, RSL is good and needs points of their own as they try to to hold off the Sounders for 2nd place in the West. Second, the Dynamo are at the end of a brutal stretch of games with a lot of travel sprinkled in for good measure. Third, missing players. Andre Hainault, Boniek Garcia, Je-Vaughn Watson and Jermaine Taylor are all off on international duty and unavailable tonight.
The deck is stacked against the Dynamo, but it's not all negative. This team is ticked off, probably a bit embarrassed too, by their recent form. The veterans led by Brian Ching and Bobby Boswell have been working in training to push everyone and remind them of what is at stake. They know that still haven't lost a match at BBVA Compass Stadium and I can guarantee they're not interested in that happening tonight...but it's going to be tough.
If the Dynamo are to get points tonight, they'll need to dig down deep and play a smart and organized game. They'll get a boost thanks to RSL missing players as well with Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborío and Will Johnson all away with their respective national teams. That should even things up a bit, but RSL still has talent and will still test the Dynamo defense. If they play like they did against Chicago, things could get ugly. If they can return to the form we've gotten used to during the summer, things should be much better.
It'll be interesting to see the lineup that Dominic Kinnear uses tonight with the absences but I think a switch-up back to a 4-4-2 would make a lot of sense. Boniek and Watson are not here and Calen Carr is still fighting with knee swelling (though he should be available). Adam Moffat is doubtful as well, so Ricardo Clark will get another start...and hopefully he looks better than he did against the Fire.
It's honestly hard to know exactly what to expect tonight, but the Dynamo know the importance of the game and I expect they'll get points. Hopefully it's the full three.
Predicted Lineup: (4-4-2) Hall; Sarkodie, Sturgis, Boswell, Ashe; R. Clark, Carr, Davis, Camargo; Ching, Bruin OR (4-3-3) Hall; Sarkodie, Sturgis, Boswell, Ashe; R. Clark, Camargo, Davis; Carr, Bruin, Kandji
Predicted Score: I'm going out on a limb and saying Dynamo win 2-1, but a draw wouldn't surprise me.