Friday, June 6th, the Houston Dynamo will face their old rival, Sporting Kansas City, at 7:30pm. It will be the first home game at BBVA Compass Stadium since May 17th against the LA Galaxy, which resulted in a 1-0 victory over Los Angeles.
Since that victory, the Dynamo have had a rough time, to put it mildly. Houston has dropped three straight games, caving to a combined total of 8 goals while failing to put themselves on the scoreboard in the meantime.
Despite the absence of veteran midfielders Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia to the World Cup rosters and Ricardo Clark to a concussion, it is not the midfield that has left the Dynamo struggling over the last several games. Servando Carrasco and Omar Cummings have filled in the gaps in the middle of the field quite nicely. Carrasco has delivered excellent service on set pieces in Davis’ absence and Cummings has made a number of impressive runs, displaying the speed characteristic to his playing style before his injury with the Colorado Rapids, his former club. Instead, the problems are occurring in our back line.
"Tally’s here, Kofi’s here, Corey’s here, I’m here, and we’re not playing the way we should be," center back David Horst confided in an interview with MLSsoccer.com. Communication has been the key issue, Horst admits. Several lapses in communication resulted in goals against the Dynamo, including a back pass from Horst to keeper Tally Hall that Hall then picked up. The indirect kick that followed was headed in, contributing to a disappointing loss.
Although it is unlikely that Dominic Kinnear will consider using rookie Alec Cochran over Jermaine Taylor, Cochran has seen significant playing time since being drafted to the Dynamo. In addition, Eric Brunner is slowly making a comeback since his sustaining an ankle injury in the preseason. Brunner was available on the bench against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Defense will be the key against Sporting KC
While Houston works out its verbal issues on the back line, they will be challenged by Kansas City’s offense, led by Dom Dwyer. With six goals in seven games during May, including two braces, and a MLS Player of the Month nomination, it wouldn’t be out of the question to accuse Dwyer of being on fire.
Despite Dwyer’s success, Kansas City has been suffering from a losing streak of their own. Their last win came on May 10th and the team is 2-4-0 when playing away this season. In addition, Sporting may be missing two bastions of their defense: Matt Besler will assuredly be absent with the World Cup Squad. Unfortunately for Kansas City, they may also be missing Aurelien Collin, who left during the 9th minute of play against D.C. United. Despite their rather lackluster away record, Sporting has won their last three matches at BBVA Compass Stadium.
In addition to Besler, midfielder Graham Zusi will also be absent with the USMNT.
Dynamo must find their offensive spark again
Since Mark Sherrod’s heartbreaking injury against D.C. United, the Houston Dynamo have not scored. The rookie Sherrod provided two goals for the Houston Dynamo in his brief playing time. The stunning loss of the striker for the season to an ACL injury seems to have taken the wind out of Houston’s offensive sails.
Houston will continue to turn to forward Will Bruin, who has provided six goals this season, in hopes that the Dancing Bear can make something happen. Giles Barnes has also contributed three goals in 2014, and appears to be only warming up. With Omar Cummings’ increased playing time, it is only a matter of time before he finds another goal of his own. Cummings scored two crucial goals during the 2013 playoffs and has one goal for 2014.
Both teams will desperately be trying to snap their losing streak Friday night. After facing Sporting Kansas City, Houston will host the Laredo Heat in the U.S. Open Cup. This leg of the cup will take place June 11 at 9:00pm.