The Dynamo suffered a tough home defeat last Friday against Orlando City SC - a game that saw heroics and blunder from Houston's goalkeeper, Tyler Deric. An otherwise stingy defense will be put to the test against Los Angeles, who have racked up impressive goal and assist totals just two matches into the year.
Los Angeles' AJ DeLaGarza has dealt with a nagging foot injury but has recovered and is ready if called upon. DeLaGarza was available on the bench last weekend in Portland, but went unused.
Houston's Raul Rodriguez was sidelined last weekend due to a hamstring tweak and resumed practices this week, albeit doing work on the side. Owen Coyle is uncertain on his availability just yet but should Raul not be ready, expect to see a decently capable Taylor-Horst tandem in the center of defense.
A quick glance at the "Goal & Assist Leaders" section below tells you all you need to know about the Galaxy's attack. Seven players have recorded a goal or an assist (one of them, Jose Villareal, has notched one of each) to make up a lethal multi-faceted attack. It does not appear that the Galaxy have slowed down without Landon Donovan though one of those performances was over bottom-feeders Chicago Fire.
Stefan Ishizaki recorded a terrific performance in that opener match, but was exploited in Portland last week. His penchant for providing high pressure could unlock the defense for forwards like Giles Barnes or an attacking Boniek Garcia.
Gyasi Zardez and Robbie Keane will be the duo to contain and should require full concentration from Houston's defense. Keane's passing combined with Zardez's cunning runs will be no easy task and may prove too much for Rodriguez if he isn't 100%. This task may better be suited for a healthy Taylor-Horst pairing.
Dynamo fans have already witnessed that Owen Coyle is not afraid to shift around the old-guard roster. After 55 minutes of Will Bruin in the opener, the Dancing Bear started Week 2 on the bench in favor of Leonel Miranda in midfield, pushing Boniek forward. The experiment didn't solve Houston's attacking woes as Boniek could never quite nail down his positioning and, frankly, didn't pair well with Barnes all night.
It will be interesting to see if Coyle is intent on experimenting with his lineup - a tactic that he often employed as gaffer for Bolton Wanderers. Whichever route he decides to go in LA (whether by inserting Bruin at the start or selecting from Rob Lovejoy and Chandler Hoffman), Coyle has also shown that he isn't willing to let mediocrity flourish throughout the second half, opting for early substitutions where necessary.