Dynamo look to remedy LA loss against Chivas

Cruz, Ashe may get more minutes with Mullan moving to forward

After the sting of last week’s loss to LA, Dynamo players
were looking forward to the next game on their schedule. It really didn’t
matter the opponent or the place just any opportunity to take out some of their
frustrations at how they played last week.

On Saturday against Chivas USA, the Dynamo will have an
opportunity to vent a bit at Robertson Stadium.

“It’s a big game coming off a 2-0 loss to LA,” said
midfielder Brad Davis. “Guys want to right the ship.”

The Dynamo have had Chivas USA number of late as they are
unbeaten in their last nine games against the Goats. However, the Houston
players are well aware of the quality of their opponents thanks to the preseason
game between the teams.

“We had a good preseason match and it was very physical,
just like a regular season game,” said Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz. “If you
look at it, it didn’t feel like a preseason game, which was good. There are
good matchups all over the field and I think we’re ready for it.”

While Houston will be looking to right the ship, the problem
is that the ship is taking on a little bit of water with numerous injuries depleting
the roster. That has opened up opportunities for some of the other players on
the roster, such as Cruz, who may start his first MLS game if an injury Corey
Ashe picked up at the end of practice on Thursday keeps him out.

“Injuries are never good, but Dom and Spenny do a good job
to prepare all of us to be ready if our number is called,” noted Cruz. “Last
year was a complete stepping stone for me. I learned so much from my teammates
and my coaches. I’m a completely different player. This year, I expect to
continue to progress and do what is necessary to be ready when my number is
called.”

The good news on the injury front appears to be that
defender Andrew Hainault should be fine to play Saturday after suffering a calf
contusion against LA.

“[I am] fully mobile and should be fit for the game,” Hainault
said.

It looks unlikely that recently reacquired Joseph Ngwenya
will have his paperwork completed in time for Saturday afternoon’s game,
however. That likely leaves the squad with Dominic Oduro as the team’s lone
forward. As a result, midfielder Brian Mullan -- who looked very sharp in
practice all week -- may again be asked to log some minutes up top.

“It’s not that
big of a stretch,” noted Mullan. “I played forward my first two years and
before that my whole life. It’s tricky switching back and forth, but I’ll throw
my all into it and hopefully something good will come out of it.”

Mullan’s Dynamo coaches and teammates know full well that
regardless of where he lines up, he’ll give his maximum effort.

“He does a lot of things people may not appreciate or see,” said
coach Dominic Kinnear. “He’s not a stat hound or a glory guy, he just shows up
and does his work and the work of others around him and he makes you appreciate
what he does. In a pinch, you can throw him up top or at right back and you
know that the effort he is going to bring his 100 percent no matter where he is
playing and he doesn’t question anything.”

Mullan’s play against LA was one of the few bright spots for
the team on a night that Houston would prefer to forget. Saturday afternoon’s
match against Chivas USA gives the Dynamo their first chance to wash away the
lingering bad taste in their mouth from the previous week’s performance.

“They have a good team and it’s going to be a tough one,”
noted Hainault. “I think we have to right our wrong because last game was very
poor. Hopefully we can go there and show we can play. It has got to be better
than last week.”

Dwain Capodice covers the Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Send him questions or comments at dwaincapodice@gmail.com.