Houston respect, but don't fear, unbeaten LA
HOUSTON -- The hottest team in MLS faces off against one of the team’s that may be the hottest under the collar as Los Angeles and the Houston square off Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. But although the frustrated Dynamo respect the unbeaten Galaxy, they are far from quaking in their boots.
“They can’t do anything wrong right now. They are playing well and they’ve got younger guys stepping up and doing the job for them,” said defender Mike Chabala, who has not recovered enough from his injury to travel to LA for the game. “They are a good team, but at the same time, they are a team that is beatable.”
They may be beatable, but no side has proven Chabala’s theory correct yet. The defense-first Galaxy, who have conceded a measly two goals in 11 games, remind the Houston Dynamo of their former selves.
“They are a team that reminds me of our team a few years ago; just a good solid team,” noted forward Brian Ching. “Their best attribute is their defense, as it’s winning them a lot of games. They have two goals against them all year, that’s amazing.
“Bruce has them buying into the system and they are doing it well,” continued Ching. “They’re not blowing teams out or winning by huge margins, but they are solid team from back to front and they have a lot of confidence right now.”
Head coach Dominic Kinnear is also well aware of their quality in defense. As a result, he believes that scoring first against them may be the key on Saturday night.
“When they score first, they defend great,” explained Kinnear. “Any time they are under pressure, Donovan Ricketts clears any pressure back to him and he clears it with accuracy a good distance away. They squeeze the field and make it difficult for you. Could the key be scoring first against them? We’ll see, but no one has done it yet.”
Fresh in the Dynamo’s memory would be their 2-0 defeat to the Galaxy at Robertson Stadium. On that night, Houston made two defensive mistakes and LA punished both errors. Other than those mistakes, though, the two sides played neck and neck.
“They came in here, took advantage of two mistakes that we made and closed the game out,” noted Kinnear. “People have said that maybe we should have beat them, but no one has beat them yet.”
With the team coming off a bad loss in a mid-week game and some cross-country travel, it seems like there are plenty of excuses built-in for a bad showing. But the Dynamo don’t exactly agree.
“When is it a good time to play the best team in the league?” questioned defender Craig Waibel. “Saturday may as well be it.”