Houston is hosting east contender Toronto on Saturday just when we thought the back line couldn’t possibly get any thinner. David Horst will be out after receiving a suspension for an elbow thrown last week against Montreal’s Patrice Bernier. Toronto on the other hand is just starting to get a few familiar faces back into their lineup.
Michael Bradley made his first appearance in MLS play since May 21st. Out for the Copa America and then recuperating from a knee injury suffered against Columbia, he’s missed a large portion of the season with Toronto. Also seeing some time after a hamstring issue is Jozy Altidore. It’s good news for a hometown Houston crowd as it’s always great to see some of the top USMNT players when possible. Downside for the hometown team is that Toronto has been playing extremely good soccer lately as they come to Houston on a four game win streak. Yeah, that’s without Bradley, and actually Altidore has only seen limited minutes over that span as well. On top of that they’ve also been without midfielder Will Johnson and starting keeper Clint Irwin. Toronto is doing a great job despite all these absences and showing off a deep roster and top notch cohesion.
And then there were….well we’re not exactly sure how many defenders will be available for Saturday’s match. With Horst sitting for this match the team is missing a key component of its thinnest position. At this time it’s unsure if either Agus or Raul Rodriguez will be able to make it back for the upcoming match, however there is a report that Agus could make the start. If he’s not ready then it will be interesting to see if Wade Barrett elects to start new acquisition Keyner Brown. Ricardo Clark was pulled out of the Montreal match with a groin strain. We don’t yet know of any reports on if that will keep him sidelined for Toronto. Alex, back after a red card suspension, will likely either start opposite Clark as usual or handle the central box to box role solo if indeed the veteran Houston player sits out. The Dynamo have three of four games at home to finish out the month of August and it would be nice to see something positive, particularly on the scoreboard. We saw so much more out of the offense last week and many more scoring opportunities but ultimately none were successful. Lone bright spot of the offense was Cristian Maidana. Despite being brought in to invigorate the Dynamo offense Maidana largely found himself sitting on the bench, having lost his starting spot with the insertion of Collen Warner. He’s certainly earned another shot after his performance last week but with a crowded midfield and new mouths to feed who knows what we will see.
The Dynamo need a lot of things to happen in the coming weeks. They need Bruin to shake the rust off and score a damn goal, dude. They need to figure out how to get the younger players involved to see if they will be able to contribute. And they need to finally build off of this defense. Yes, the defense which will have not a single starter playing in their proper position this Saturday. Yes, the defense which has become extremely stingy despite injuries and absences. Yes the defense which has been the one good team collaborative effort of the whole season. Yeah, build something off of that.