New player signings and a renewed playoff focus are what the Dynamo hope will propel them past a red-hot DC United team when they battle at BBVA Compass Stadium this Sunday evening.
A late-May fixture saw United ride out an easy 2-0 victory at home, sending the Dynamo into a string of winless results that have yet to be snapped. That match, however, marked the first of several in which the Dynamo coped without the likes of Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis (away on World Cup duty) and Ricardo Clark (who missed nine games due to a concussion injury).
In contrast, DC United emerged from that meeting on a tear and have only lost two games in their last eight. United currently sit on a four-game win streak after dispatching Toronto FC on Wednesday night by a comprehensive 3-0 scoreline. That result has put an 11-point gap between the second place United and trailing New England Revolution, while keeping top honors in the Eastern Conference just one point out of reach.
With one of the most improbable runs after a historically disastrous 2013 campaign, DC has managed to assemble a threatening team and a serious playoff contender. The return of Dynamo mainstay Bobby Boswell has proven valuable as his pairing with Sean Franklin has anchored the DC backline. This has helped build a stingy defensive core, allowing only 6 goals in their last 8 games while notching 15 of their own.
That flurry of goals can be attributed to the returning form of Eddie Johnson and Luis Silva, the duo responsible for just over half of that total. The team’s leading goal scorer and assist-leader, Fabian Espindola, remains out after a mid-June MCL strain but has seen his position filled by the able Chris Rolfe. The midfielder, who most recently netted a goal against Toronto, has been a very active element to DC’s squad and has proven a handful when providing service into the box.
If the Dynamo are able to contain DC’s attacking threat, they should have their chances but will need to deal with Bill Hamid. The goalkeeper has provided several heroic performances in their recent streak of play, recording 23 saves in the last five matches, but also leaking a single goal in all but one of those games.
What remains to be seen is how the two newest additions to the Dynamo, USMNT defender and the club’s third DP DaMarcus Beasley and Honduran international midfielder Luis Garrido, will factor into the lineup. Comments made this week seem to point to their debuts but the positions they fill remains cloudy. Beasley has remarked about his preference for the left-back position which may see some rotation with Corey Ashe while Garrido fills a Ricardo Clark-esque role. So far, however, Dominic Kinnear has kept his intentions quiet.
Regardless of where the new signings might play, what has been established is the relief of anxiety Dynamo fans surely felt while missing Boniek, Davis, and Clark. The trio have made their returns and over the last three games have provided much improved midfield play going forward. Davis, in particular, has been difficult to contain, scoring three goals since his return and helping connect Giles Barnes and Will Bruin, who have combined for three goals, as well.
The Dynamo are aware they need to fix holes in their game, and the signings of Beasley and Garrido are an indication of just that. Whether the adjustments will pay off is yet to be seen, but the Dynamo are certainly up against the wall with their remaining schedule shrinking. Currently sitting ninth of ten teams in the East with a league-worst -17 goal difference, the Dynamo have to begin finding points soon. Only 7 points out of the playoff position, they may be close but, having dropped 15 points at home matches this year, they can’t afford to lose more at BBVACompass against a tough conference opponent.
The Dynamo face DC United on Sunday, August 3rd at 7:00PM CST at BBVA Compass Stadium. It can be seen on CSN Houston and Univision Deportes broadcasts.