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Matchday Preview 29: Houston Dynamo vs. Chivas USA

Conference play isn't on the menu for the Houston Dynamo as they host Chivas USA, but that doesn't mean the race isn't ongoing. The Dynamo look to keep pace in the East while facing off against a Western Conference foe this Saturday night.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday felt good, didn't it? Think about it, and reminisce for a second. Okay, the second is up. Again, it's time for a short memory, because it's time to do it all over again. The Houston Dynamo are at it again, opening up a three match week with a home clash against Chivas USA this Saturday evening.

Though the visitors are currently the bottom club in the Western Conference, this is not a match that the Dynamo can overlook, for several reasons. First of all, respect. For all the firestorm the Chivas USA front office has brought down on themselves this season, there's still a club (and fans) associated with them that had nothing to do with the brouhaha. I'll stray from editorial comments here, but I've made my feelings known several times on my own Twitter account, and I'll restate them here: don't hate on the club and the fans because of the mistakes of a couple of people in the front office. They deserve better.

Now, on to the actual match. Position in the table aside, Chivas USA are a talented club, and if you don't give them the respect and regard they've earned, they will burn you. Dan Kennedy is still showing why he's a good keeper, and midseason acquisition Erick Torres has shown a tendency for flair with seven goals in ten matches. US National team fixture Carlos Bocanegra has helped solidify a backline that was a little leaky at the beginning of the season, and there are other players with obvious talent on the roster - including former Dynamo Josue Soto (though he hasn't seen any time since a short substitution against Vancouver on 1 September).

This will be the last Western Conference for that the Dynamo face in the regular season (they're 4-3-1 in the previous eight league matches). It's been a mixed bag for the Dynamo so far, with some of the club's best moments coming in inter-conference play (as well as a number of moments I'm sure the fans want to forget). And while it's not against a club competing for a playoff spot, the implications are still huge. This is a match you look at and think "trap match" - and pray that the club doesn't do something completely horrible.

That being said, the signs for the Dynamo are looking good. They'll be back at home, in front of their own fans, and should be rejuvenated by last week's gritty victory in Philadelphia. Even better, this is a roster on the upswing now. Boniek Garcia is back from his suspension - though he is still one yellow away from a suspension due to accumulation. Omar Cummings saw time on the pitch last Saturday, and showed a bit of why the Dynamo traded for him. Servando Carrasco was traded here Friday and immediately proved that he wanted a part of the action.

The finishing is still a work in progress - as we pointed out earlier this week - but when the midfield gets settled, you have to figure that better chances will come. And with good chances coming in, sooner or later, the forwards will finish them. After all, it only takes one.

I haven't seen an injury report yet, but I have heard that Andrew Driver is back in training - we'll have more on him when we get it, of course. The ominous phrase "cardiovascular issues" was waved around regarding Ricardo Clark's prolonged absence, but he looked very good last Saturday - and not just because he scored the lone goal of the match. It's not all rosy - Calen Carr is still having knee issues, however, and as of yet, I have no word on the status of Corey Ashe and Eric Brunner - but it's not the veritable hospital wing it seemed a week or two ago.

The Dynamo showed heart and grit in an ugly win in Philadelphia last week. Now they get a chance to start to build some momentum of their own. They sit fourth in the East, so (as I noted Monday) it's simple: points get you into the playoffs. Will they be easy to come by? No - as I said earlier, Chivas USA can be very dangerous, and deserve every bit of caution and respect they're given. That being said, the points are certainly there for the Dynamo, if they play like we know they can.

The race is tight, and it's going to get tighter and hotter still as it gets close to the finish. It's up to the Dynamo to maintain their pace - but we'll know how that turns out after ninety minutes on Saturday night. The forecast doesn't look to good, which might make for an ugly match, but that can't be helped. If at all possible, the men in orange will have the backing of a rocking BBVA Compass Stadium, and we'll hope that our cheers can help propel them onward.