The Montreal Impact come to town after Tuesday's thrilling and exhausting Champions League Semifinal in Costa Rica. This is as good a chance as any for the Dynamo to capitalize and secure their first three points in over a month. Can they find the net?
The Dynamo will likely be without defender Raul Rodriguez, who struggles to complete a full 90 in orange. To his credit, Rodriguez is out due to an "inch and a half deep" cut sustained in collision with Tyler Deric and Clint Dempsey last weekend (though I suspect Coyle may have meant "long" rather than "deep"). Giles Barnes also missed some training this week due to a sore foot but appears to be back in the swing. Boniek Garcia sat out Thursday's session with an illness. His availability is unknown at this time.
Montreal comes into this match suffering from rough long-term injuries. The team has been missing defender Adrian Lopez (knee) and goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (shoulder) for a bit of time, but have also seen Justin Mapp dislocate his elbow in the season opener and rookie-on-the-rise Cameron Porter tear his ACL. Porter, who scored the CCL semifinal-clinching goal in stoppage back in March, has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Impact love to make dribbling runs in on goal, and part of that is due to ex-Dynamo forward, Dominic Oduro. Oduro has worked on his crossing ability since last we saw him and could serve an important role down the side for Kofi Sarkodie to contend with.
In front of goal, Montreal have called upon former-Union man Jack McInerney in light of the team's injury woes. Jack Mac put away a goal in Costa Rica this week and has done so once in MLS play. He's not unlike Will Bruin so it will be interesting to see how the Dynamo backline deal with his less-pacey runs. Ignacio Piatti is their man in the attacking midfield and he, too, has a goal to his name.
On the back line, an anemic Dynamo will have to deal with Laurent Ciman. The Belgian defender has been a rock and proven himself difficult to get around. For a Houston team that places dead-last in shots-on-goal, this will be a tough task.
Who Do We Face?
This is the tougher question. We know Montreal fielded their Best XI in Costa Rica on Tuesday and it's possible that head coach Frank Klopas moves to sit a handful or reduce minutes in an effort to keep players fresh and stave off any other injuries. That could mean less of players that ran through the ringer this week (like Oduro) while allowing for minutes to the second string.
For our part, the Dynamo need to start clicking and they're well aware. After a flurry of shots against a 10-man Seattle last week, Houston improved their average shots per game but took a nosedive in shooting accuracy to a shocking 29% (last place). Eddie Robinson, in an interview with Glenn Davis, had very good insights regarding our attacking corps. With as much firepower as we have on paper, there shouldn't be any reason we can't be better. Sitting in the last few ranks of most offensive categories, it's hard to argue we could be worse.
You may have noticed changes to our Matchday graphics and we'd love to hear your feedback. There have been some substitutions of statistics and general tidying up but I do want to bring attention to the Defensive Stats section below.
When we list the "Squawka Best Defender", we are showing who, based on the Squawka performance algorithm, is a statistical "best". Beginning in today's graphic, we'll be showing "Best Defender" using an average of their score over 90 minutes (previously, it had been a cumulative total). So, if you see some Squawka numbers that look a little wonky compared to past weeks, that's probably it.
The Houston Dynamo host Montreal Impact on Saturday, April 11th at 7:30PM in BBVA Compass Stadium. The game can be seen on ROOT Sports and heard on 1560AM/850AM. Tickets are still available on HoustonDynamo.com.