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Matchday Preview 28: Philadelphia Union v Houston Dynamo

We know the problems that the Houston Dynamo have. We all have our ideas on how to best fix them. Saturday evening, we'll see how many of them come to fruition as the Dynamo travel to PPL Park to face the Philadelphia Union in a critical conference clash. Win, and they're right back in. Lose or draw, and it's back to scoreboard watching. Can it be done?


This will be a short preview, compared with many I've done in the past. It may not be sweet, but then again, not much recently about this team has smelled very sweetly. I can copy and paste stuff from the last few previews, and it would still be relevant. We all know what the Houston Dynamo face, and we all know what has to be fixed for it to work. So I'm not going to go into that very much.

After a brief and depressing return home to BBVA Compass Stadium last week, the Dynamo travel up to PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania for an Eastern Conference showdown with the Philadelphia Union. The Union currently sit fourth in the East, two points ahead of New England and the Dynamo. Every match that is left matters, but right now, this one is the most important. Win this, and those three points take them into the postseason race - in fourth or fifth, depending on other results. It's that simple. Win, and the Dynamo are right back in the driver's seat.

Except it never is that simple with the Dynamo, is it? How will the club work in the absence of Dominic Kinnear, who was ejected from last Sunday's loss and will not travel with his squad? Brad Davis and Jermaine Taylor will be returning from international duty, but Boniek Garcia will be serving the one game suspension handed down for his actions in the match against Chicago on 1 September. Ricardo Clark looks like he might be back, but does it come at the cost of Adam Moffat, who left last Sunday's match with a left quad injury? Jason Johnson is finally on the scoresheet, as is Alex Lopez, but will they soon be joined by Omar Cummings and Calen Carr - to say nothing of Will Bruin, who is in desperate need of something to help boost his confidence?

They'll have to do so against a Union squad coming off their own frustrating loss, a 1-0 defeat in San Jose that they probably felt they deserved at least a point out of. Jack McInerney may be the only striker in more of a slump than Bruin, but Sebastien Le Toux, Antoine Hoppenot, Conor Casey and others have kept their offense alive enough to keep them right in the thick of the race.

Both clubs know what is at stake here. Points are needed, and the more they can grab, the better off they'll be. Three points for the Dynamo, and, as I stated earlier, they're guaranteed at least fifth place by the end of the weekend. A draw or a loss, and the already closing window shuts that much further, with eyes turning to watch the scoreboard for the Chicago-New England match which starts an hour after the 6:30 pm Central kickoff in Chester.

The Dynamo have gotten very lucky with results around them lately, but at some point, they have to make their own luck. Here's hoping that starts Saturday evening. The odds may seem long - poor form, the all too familiar Dynamo road woes, the continued absence of proven playmaker Boniek (who has scored two of his four career MLS goals against the Union) in the midfield - but then, the Dynamo have beaten such odds before, haven't they?

Can they do so again? We'll find out Saturday evening.