Tale of the Tape: Dynamo vs. Union

Dynamo set for conference semifinal matchup against second-year club

HOU_20110806_Union_8_Cameron_Hainault

Photo Credit: 
Drew Hallowell / Getty Images

The Dynamo will enter the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals, taking on the Philadelphia Union in a two-leg, aggregate-scoring series.

Game 1: Sunday, October 30, 4 p.m. CT, PPL Park, Chester PA
(ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 950 AM, 850 AM)

Game 2: Thursday, November 3, 7:30 p.m. CT, Robertson Stadium, Houston TX
(ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, Eng. radio TBA, 850 AM) - buy tickets

Here's a look at the two clubs and some key stats from 2011.

 
First season 2006 2010
All-time MLS record 73-53-60 (.554) 19-23-22 (.469)
MLS Cup titles 2 - 2006, 2007 0
All-time leading scorer (MLS) Brian Ching (51) Sebastien Le Toux (25)
All-time assist leader (MLS) Brad Davis (62) Sebastien Le Toux (20)
All-time shutout leader (MLS) Pat Onstad (37) Faryd Mondragon (7)
Avg. All-time MLS attendance 17,327 18,725
Coach Dominic Kinnear Peter Nowak
All-time head-to-head results 0-2-2 2-0-2
2011 record 12-9-13, 49 pts 11-8-15, 48 pts
2011 goal differential 45-41=+4 44-36=+8
2011 home points per game 2.00 (10-3-4) 1.76 (7-1-9)
Different goalscorers 17 16
2011 goal differential, last 15' 14-12=+2 11-4=+7

Philadelphia won the regular-season series between the teams, 1-0-1, but Houston outshot the Union heavily in both games. Here's a look at statistics from the teams' two-head-to-head meetings in 2011, courtesy of MLS stats partner Opta.

 
Shots 35 15
Shots on goal 5 8
Shots blocked by opp. 14 0
Corner kicks 10 5
Fouls 30 23
Crosses from open play 45 11
Total passes 970 610
Avg. passing accuracy 81.40% 70.45%
Avg. possession 61.75% 38.25%
Saves 6 4

Key Quotes
DYNAMO HEAD COACH DOMINIC KINNEAR

"I’m happy we have a home game. There were a lot of nerves heading into that [LA] game. It put pressure on us to beat them, and that’s what we wanted to do to get a home game in the playoffs. The home games in the playoffs in Houston are pretty special. It doesn’t work out every time, but I think having the home game for the second game is something you feel comfortable with."

"The fans here were really disappointed at missing the playoffs last year, and with the second half of the season and the way the team has been playing, the attention locally gives you a lift. It was a great crowd on Sunday, and I’m glad we sent them home with a win. It is a Thursday night, but I think it gives us enough time to where we see a crowd somewhere [greater than 20,000], and hopefully that gives us an advantage in the second game."

"The last four or five games, because all the teams were so close together -- we’d be at the top, then we’d be fourth or fifth after the weekend was over -- I think it tested us a little bit. [For example:] the Dallas game away from home and especially the Portland game, because they were three points behind us. I think the guys have handled the pressure well. It is good to be playing well instead of possibly not feeling good about your last game. I do agree with the point that in the last five or six games, we’ve been under pressure. They’ve been a big test for our group, home and away, and I think we’ve handled the test pretty well."

"Carlo [Costly] got his first goal, and you saw the enjoyment on his face, but also the other guys on the team were so happy for him. He’s a good guy in the locker room, guys enjoy his company, and he enjoys being here. Against Portland, his hold-up play and defensive assignments on set pieces were vital to that victory. He’s done well for us. Luiz Camargo comes in under the radar. He's started a lot of games for us down the stretch. He’s afforded us the luxury of moving Geoff Cameron back to center back, which has made us a better team defensively. He hasn’t scored a goal yet, but he's got a couple of assists, I think, and his overall play has been good. Adam [Moffat]’s inclusion into the team, along with those two guys, has made us a better team down the stretch."

"Those two years and 2005 in San Jose, that was a pretty special group. It was kind of a who's who of guys who have played in MLS over the years. You can’t compare those teams to the teams of today, but one thing I have seen is the attitude has been similar where it’s a pretty determined group. When we finally put all the pieces together, the attitude of hating to lose I see on the faces which I saw on the 2006 and 2007 team. To make a run in the playoffs, you need your good players to play well and a little luck on your side, but determination and team spirit need to be good. Hating to lose needs to be with you every single minute when you’re on the field."

PHILADELPHIA HEAD COACH PETER NOWAK

"The style didn’t change from [either] team. The personnel changed, and the personnel makes the game more different. Corey Ashe -- when we played in Houston, he played as a right midfielder. Now he’s playing left back. Geoff Cameron played as an offensive midfielder; now he’s a center back. We know the Houston Dynamo is a team that has a lot of guys that have won the championship and been in this position. We recognize how good they are with set pieces, they compete, they know that every play matters in this series. You saw the last couple of games that when the result is on the line, they know exactly what to do. They’ve been in this situation, while 90 percent of my guys have never been in this situation. I don’t think [either] team has changed their setup or mentality going into the game. It’s going to be the same, but the personnel will make the difference in the end."

"I think we had a little taste [of playoff soccer] already in New York. When we knew we were going to be in the playoffs, we got a taste of what would happen outside the field with our great fans and the good supporters in New York. Also a taste on the field, where it was a physical and fast game. We had a little taste, but everybody’s excited. We’re very excited to be here after 18 months as a new franchise and play in a conference semifinal."

"The series is two games, so you’ve got to let them know that everything we did in the past 34 weeks won’t matter. What matters now is to be focused. ... We want to focus on three things: being simple, being efficient, and being effective. The series and then the conference final is not who’s going to play the prettiest soccer; it’s going to be who wins the games and wins the series. Because our club is inexperienced, I need help from veterans with advice for the young players as well to get them to understand. ... The whole package needs to be delivered, from the offensive line to the defensive line. Be loose, be confident, and keep your head high. There are a lot of things to be proud of now, after 18-20 months being in the playoffs. If they deliver the whole package, then we’re going to be OK."

"You win, you go through and you play in the conference final. If not, you go fishing. That’s the part they need to understand. … They need to adjust on the field and take charge of making their own decisions. I don’t want to have robots. I don’t want players who are going to look at the bench and say, 'Coach, what now?' They need to take charge and find their own answers, and that’s part of the process for the future."

"Brad davis is a very experienced player, and sometimes he drifts to the wing and sometimes pinches in. Not only crosses and free kicks, but also on shots from that distance, he’s very good as well. It’s being compact and being disciplined. In the past couple of games [against Houston], I think we did a good job to defend those things. The simplest way to put it is to not allow any free kicks around the box that the team can take advantage of. It’s important to stay organized, move your feet, and make sure we’re in a good position to defend even if the cross will come. We’re also going to be pressuring the ball so the cross will not come. It’s more than one thing, and as I said, the players need to recognize by themselves and know what to do on the field. That’s how we’re going to provide this kind of coverage for the crosses and prevent things going forward for them."