The Houston Dynamo have a thing about Canada, since Toronto joined the league in 2007 they've never won north of the border. Not against TFC, not against Vancouver and not against Montreal. The Dynamo have amased a rather unimpressive 0-5-3 record in Canada, but thanks to the ever cyclical nature of sports, they'll get yet another chance tomorrow at BMO Field.
The last meeting between Toronto FC and Houston was an exciting 3-3 draw that saw the Dynamo come back from an early deficit to earn the face saving draw. At that point in June, TFC was the worst team in MLS. They still are the worst team in the Eastern Conference but Portland's lesser goal differential allows them to avoid the "worst team" label. That said, this is an improving team under Paul Mariner and one that is playing a great deal better than their record might lead you to believe. In fact they've won three league matches in a row.
Danny Koevermans is lost to TFC after tearing his ACL against the New England Revolution, but thanks to a trade with Vancouver, Eric Hassli is now wearing red and provides an ample replacement for the injured Dutchman.
The Dynamo are playing their best soccer of the season, hopefully making yet another summer surge that leads to a deep run in the playoffs. The team has settled nicely in to the 4-3-3 formation and have looked more dangerous on the attack in the past three matches than we've seen from this team since the days of De Rosario and Holden. Macoumba Kandji is thriving, Calen Carr has been outstanding since returning from injury and Will Bruin is returning to form after a few hiccups learning how to play in the middle of a three-man front line.
Combine the offensive improvements with a return to the dependable defensive form we've grown accustomed to and a case could be made that the Dynamo are the hottest team in MLS, right alongside Toronto FC in terms of positive form.
What this means is Saturday's match in Toronto should be both entertaining and a tough challenge for Houston. It's the type of match you have to believe the Dynamo can win, but you'd be happy walking away with a draw. The key will be the defense as Toronto's speedy attack will again test the back line just like they did back in June. Unlike that previous meeting though, the Dynamo defense is in form, so they shouldn't have as easy a time as they did at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The distraction of the Geoff Cameron transfer is also off the Dynamo's plate. While the final paperwork is still not done, Cameron is all but gone and hasn't played in the last two matches, so his absence is accepted fact rather than some kind of uncertainty hanging over the team. Plus it's the final day of the transfer window so there's always a chance the roster could get another boost today, even if a potential signing might not factor in to this weekend's match.
No injuries to report for the Dynamo, so it looks like Kinnear will have everyone available for selection. Add to that the bonus of a full week of normal training and no players picking up unnecessary minutes in All-Star game on Wednesday, and it should be a rested and first choice lineup tomorrow.
What do you think the lineup will look like and what are your score predictions for the match?
Predicted Lineup: Hall; Hainault, Taylor, Boswell, Ashe; Garcia, Moffat, Davis; Carr, Bruin, Kandji
Predicted Score: 2-1 Dynamo. It's time to finally win in Canada!