May 1st was not a good night for the Houston Dynamo. The men in orange entered their ninth game of the season following a hectic and controversial 4-4 home draw against Kansas City. Ready to rebound, they faced FC Dallas at home in their first of three faceoffs this year and it did not end well. Fabian Castillo, Dallas' midfield engine, was merciless on a slow and disjointed Dynamo defense, netting a goal and assisting on two others in a nightmare 4-1 win over Houston.
Since that night, the Dynamo have earned mixed results with three wins, three losses, and a draw. Dallas, on the other hand, have hit a skid, collecting six points in their last seven matches. After their trouncing of Houston in May, they've only mustered four goals in total since.
Both teams will enter Toyota Stadium on Friday night wanting to bounce back. Houston, who lost 2-0 in Portland last week, will want to reclaim their hot form that led into that match. Dallas, desperate to stop the slide, will want to collect on what could be their second victory since beating Houston in May.
The Dynamo will have Giles Barnes and Jermaine Taylor, back from a group stage exit at Copa America, while Boniek Garcia has left to join Honduras ahead of the Gold Cup. Brad Davis, who was selected to USA's Gold Cup roster, is still with Houston and available on Friday night.
Dallas appears healthy with defender Matt Hedges returning from a hamstring strain. Head coach Oscar Pareja told Dallas Morning News that Hedges may take a bit to regain his form but he is active in training this week and could be up for selection.
Friday will act as a farewell of sorts for several of the Dynamo starters heading to Gold Cup training camps soon. This will be head coach Owen Coyle's last chance for the next five to six games to have Giles Barnes, Jermaine Taylor, and Brad Davis on the field at the same time. A very effective part of the Houston lineup, the Dynamo will hope to capitalize on their presence. The next time they return, they will do so to a different team with Cubo Torres (potentially) making for tough lineup decisions.
This will be the first time Houston sees Dallas forward Blas Perez this season (he was on a red card suspension in May). Perez is on 5 goals and an assist this year but hasn't produced since May 9th. Castillo, however, was punishing against Houston and hasn't let up since. He's been dominant as a ball handler and passer and will need to be contained in Dallas. Kofi Sarkodie had a tough time of it that evening but, with the lineup shifts since, Houston may test Raul Rodriguez to stick on Castillo for Friday.
Mauro Diaz is Dallas' other attacking threat, with two goals and four assists to his own name. The Diaz-Castillo-Perez triangle is not unlike the Portland trio that Houston faced last weekend so it will be vital that Owen Coyle make the correct lineup decisions and hope that this week's training sessions have closed the defensive gaps of a week ago.