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Win and they’re in: 3 things to watch

The Dynamo take on the LA Galaxy Thursday night needing a win to advance in the MLS is Back Tournament.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Portland Timbers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It all comes down to tonight. Win the game and the Dynamo get to extend their stay in Orlando. Anything less than a win means it’s back to Houston they go. Standing in the way is the long-time nemesis, LA Galaxy.

Three points tonight against the Galaxy would give the Dynamo four points, enough to advance from Group F as one of the four best third place teams. Advancing to the round of 16 would mean a match up with another long-time rival, Sporting Kansas City, on Sunday. But, they have to win. None of this matters unless the Dynamo can beat the Galaxy tonight. Here are three things to watch for.

Short memory

Saturday’s loss to Portland was rough. The Dynamo conceded twice, could only muster a late penalty, and saw Alberth Elis get sent off. One way to get your mind off things, play some golf with your buddies.

The players may not be making a move to the PGA Tour anytime soon but hopefully their outing helped put the Portland result in the rear view mirror. Whatever happened in that game doesn’t matter anymore. The Dynamo have their fate in their own hands and all their focus should be on beating the Galaxy.

Panther caged

The panther won’t be on the prowl tonight. Alberth Elis was sent off Saturday night and will have to serve his suspension tonight against the Galaxy. The Dynamo appealed the suspension, however they were not successful, meaning the Honduran will play no part in this must-win contest. With Elis out of the lineup, the big question is who will take his place in the lineup. Tab Ramos could go with the youngster Nico Lemoine. He could also go with more of a veteran presence in Tommy McNamara or Niko Hansen. If Ramos wants to shift the formation some, Tomas Martinez could get the call. Whoever starts in place of Elis, it will be vital for Darwin Quintero and Mauro Manotas to lead the offense. The Houston offense needs to find its form from game one, before time runs out.

Remember February?

Darwin Quintero training in Florida
Houston Dynamo

February seems like years ago. With everything that has been going on it’s easy to forget the Dynamo played two MLS regular season games earlier this year. One of those games was the home opener, way back on February 29, against these same LA Galaxy, Mauro Manotas canceled out Christian Pavon’s only goal and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who made his Galaxy debut in that match, will be unavailable tonight after suffering a calf injury in training. The coaching staff will definitely have looked at the tape on the earlier meeting to find some ways to better that result. Pavon and Sebastian Lletget will be the focal points for the Dynamo defense. While the Galaxy offense still has some firepower, their defense remains a weak point. Manotas and Quintero, who did not play the first match in February, should be able to find a number of chances tonight.