Two weeks ago, you'd be forgiven for laughing if you heard that the Dynamo were soon-to-be the only MLS team on a win streak - beginning in Toronto. The team had given up a disastrous nine goals in a three match homestand and were logging disjointed, frustrating-to-watch performances.
Going into Friday, the Dynamo are surging after comprehensive performances against the highest payroll in the league and a Portland team stocked with a talented one-two punch in Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi. The LA Galaxy, who will host Houston, are on the downswing with a glimmer of hope on the horizon. LA haven't won in five consecutive matches and are returning from an uninspiring three-game road trip claiming just one point.
Houston earned a 1-1 draw at StubHub Center in March (thanks to Nathan Sturgis) and hope to keep their form rolling through a Galaxy team dealing with injury and inconsistent lineups.
The only scratch for the Dynamo appears to be Nathan Sturgis, still dealing with his shoulder dislocation. [EDIT - Sturgis has been moved to "probable" for this match.]
LA Galaxy can point to their long list of injuries as a reason for their recent form but it looks as if they may be recovering just in time for Friday night. Edson Buddle (calf) and Robbie Keane (groin) could be cleared to play while Todd Dunivant (knee) and Robbie Rogers (achilles) look to continue their absences. AJ DeLaGarza has sat out of training twice this week with a foot injury and may need time off to heal.
Stefan Ishizaki v. DaMarcus Beasley - The right midfielder for the Galaxy, Ishizaki, has proven instrumental in conducting the LA attack. He has provided key passes all over the field and done his best while waiting on the return of tried-and-true firepower. Beasley has put in a few good shifts recently for the Dynamo and remains one of Houston's best per-90 defenders. He may need to have fewer runs down the wing on Friday if he wants to be sure he can cover the counter attack. If he slips on marking, then expect Ishizaki to bomb one into the box for Gyasi Zardez.
Will Bruin & Giles Barnes v. Jaime Penedo - Despite a poor run of games recently for the Galaxy, their Panamanian keeper has been a bright spot, registering 14 saves in the last three games despite being outscored 6-1. The return of Omar Gonzalez to the lineup could provide a stable presence and relief for Penedo. The Bruin-Barnes combo, however, is clicking and poses a serious threat to a shuffled Galaxy backline that has been unable to communicate well. How the two Dynamo strikers play off each other (not to mention Houston midfielders) could be too much to handle for the reliable Penedo.
Baggio Husidic v. Boniek Garcia - Husidic filled in for the injured Robbie Rogers at left back against Orlando City and it was his first time to play the position. The Galaxy let four goals in but little blame could be left at Husidic's feet as he performed capably at a moment's notice. Despite that, he expressed unfamiliarity with running along the line as a fullback and that seems like an excellent opportunity for Boniek Garcia to pounce. If Baggio can get caught out too deep in the attack (he normally plays midfield), there should be enough space for Garcia to create chances.
The Dynamo revisit StubHub Center in Los Angeles on Friday, May 22nd at 9:30PM CDT. The match will be broadcast on Univision Deportes (English available via the SAP button).