The Houston Dynamo are back home at PNC Stadium to take on Major League Soccer’s newest team, Charlotte FC. Houston is coming off a 2-1 loss Wednesday night on the road against the Portland Timbers. Charlotte played at home on Thursday night, losing to Austin FC 1-0 . This the first meeting between Houston and Charlotte, in the North Carolina club’s inaugural season in MLS.
Time to play
The Dynamo have had a busy week, welcoming Hector Herrera to town with multiple events. Herrera will make his debut next weekend against FC Dallas (when the MLS transfer window opens), but the rest of the Dynamo have to get in the match mindset with Charlotte in town. There will be a lot more opportunities for parties and hoopla surrounding Herrera but getting three points at home tonight is a must. The Western Conference standings are very tight, especially around the playoff line, so Houston can not afford any slip-ups at home. Charlotte have yet to win away from home, with 7 losses and 2 draws on the road.
While Charlotte has struggled on the road, their offense can’t be overlooked. Polish striker Karol Swiderski and countryman Kamil Jozwiak on the wing will lead Charlotte’s attack and have the ability to bag goals. Swiderski has 4 goals and 2 assists this season while Jozwiak has yet to find the score sheet early in his MLS career. Alongside the two Polish attackers, Charlotte will look to this year’s number 1 overall SuperDraft pick Ben Bender to drive their midfield. Bender has 3 goals and 3 assists in his rookie season.
You never want to lose games but this Dynamo team, in a season of building and growing, can definitely take things away from a loss. The team played well in Portland but were unable to find an equalizing goal while up a man for the final fifteen minutes. Head coach Paulo Nagamura spoke after Wednesday’s match about what the performance, even in a loss, says about the team and how they will translate that to tonight. “This is not an easy place to play,” Nagamura said. “To do what we did here, it was encouraging for me as a coach. I think we did everything that we needed to do to win the game. I think the last touch, the last finish, I think we created enough opportunities not only to tie the game but to win the game. Kudos to Portland, they defended well in the final 50 minutes there. They managed the game well and grinded out a result. I think as a team we should leave this game with a head up, because there were a lot of good things that were done in this game from beginning to end. That’s the message for the players. They should be proud of the performance. I think the result of course hurt, but if we play with that intensity and quality, we’ll win more games than we lose. Again, we’re playing against a quality opponent at their home. We can’t forget that, but I think we take a lot of positives heading into Charlotte. We go back home and try to get a result.”
Houston Dynamo - Out: Teenage Hadebe (yellow card accumulation)
Charlotte FC - Out: Vinicius Melo (left foot surgery), Adam Armour (left knee surgery); Questionable: Pablo Sisniega (concussion), Christian Fuchs (left lower leg), Harrison Afful (left thigh)