It's tough not to feel hard done by the finish in LA last weekend. A late goal by - who else? - Alan Gordon and an atrocious spot by the referee did not give the Dynamo a chance to bring home a point. But there is little time to rue over the poor officiating and now a fully healthy Houston shifts focus to the weekend, where they will face a team with just two points in the last ten matches.
New York City FC have a lot of things going for them on paper. There's head coach Jason Kreis, World Cup champion David Villa, and USMNT star-on-the-rise Mix Diskerud. This is a team that should be producing but they can't seem to fire on all cylinders, instead puttering through the first third of the season with a single victory.
With the Dynamo Charities Cup snafu behind the players, the team opted on Thursday night to train in preparation for the weekend's match. Now, they will head to Yankee Stadium to earn three points from a team that has been struggling to play on the same page.
The Dynamo enter this match fully healthy with Nathan Sturgis returning to last week's lineup following his recovery from a shoulder dislocation.
[Edit - According to Darrell Lovell, Brad Davis (knee bone bruise) and David Horst (knee sprain) are doubtful and questionable, respectively]
New York City FC have been dealing with the absence of two notable players - midfielders Ned Grabavoy (pelvis) and Javier Calle (adductor strain). Neither player played in the match versus Real Salt Lake last week and are expected to continue treatment.
Frank Lampard has completed his EPL season with Manchester City but will remain out for NYCFC until the transfer window opens in mid-July (very similar to the Cubo Torres situation for Houston).
David Villa v. Tyler Deric - Despite the presence of El Guapo, NYCFC's attack has been anemic at best, tied for last in the league with just 9 goals. Villa has notched two of those but needed 33 shots to do so (by contrast, Bruin has 4 goals from 16 shots). David Villa is clearly unafraid to shoot at goal but rarely are the shots particularly challenging. Tyler Deric will probably have a very active match and will need to make good decisions on when to come out of the box or stay on the line for saves. Earlier in the season, Deric has let soft goals slip though part of that is down to an uncommunicative back line. The give-and-take between this pair should make for an exciting matchup.
Giles Barnes v. the NYCFC defense - In short, the back line of the blues is bad. Decent individual talent has fallen to poor communication and the result is frightening for NYC fans. They can be carved up and turned around by a crafty forward and Giles Barnes certainly fits that mold. Add Bruin's penchant for poaching and the NYCFC back line will have its work cut out for themselves on Saturday night. The one thing going for them is, after ten listless matches, there just might be momentum to come from frustration. They won't allow Barnes to walk the goal in but their mentality (and ability to talk with one another) will be the deciding factor in how much of a fight they want to put up.
Mix Diskerud v. the Houston Dynamo midfield - Mix had a great game in the NYCFC home opener back in March. And then, since that solitary win, he has certainly regressed. He can still challenge a keeper when given space (as he did against Nick Rimando last week) but he seems to face trouble figuring out his role in Kreis' team. Unable to lock in precise attacking moves, he's failed to take the maestro role of a player like Michael Bradley or Andrea Pirlo (who NYCFC are in talks with this summer). Defensively, he's just not a presence in the New York midfield. Facing the likes of Ricardo Clark, Nathan Sturgis, and perhaps even Brad Davis, Diskerud should struggle with finding the right role again. NYCFC have been known to allow midfields space to work with the ball and that Dynamo trio might be all that's needed to punish a lax Mix.
The Dynamo travel to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC on Saturday, May 30th at 6:00PM CDT. The match will be broadcast on ROOT Sports and 1560AM/850AM.