Five things to watch for ahead of Saturday's match vs. Toronto FC
Coming off a historic 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo will hit the road this weekend to face a much-improved Toronto FC squad. Here are five things you should know ahead of Saturday's match at BMO Field (3 pm, KPRC Local 2)
1. Dynamo looking for first road win of 2013
The home record for the Houston Dynamo has been well-documented. Dominic Kinnear's squad has gone unbeaten in 35 consecutive home matches and is 5-0-0 in 2013 in all competitions. For all the success the club has had at home, however, the team has struggled on the road. This year, the Dynamo are 0-3-0 on the road, including a 3-0 loss to Santos Laguna in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series. It took the Dynamo until their 16th road game in 2011 to get their first win away from home, however, in 2012, the Dynamo won its first two road games to start the season. Can the Dynamo get the elusive first road win Saturday at BMO Field?
2. Toronto FC has played Houston tough in previous matches
For a team that has never made the playoffs, Toronto FC has performed well historically against the Dynamo. The Dynamo are 4-3-6 all-time against the pesky Reds and are only 1-2-3 on the road against Toronto FC. On the plus side, the Dynamo won their 2012 road meeting against Toronto behind goals from Calen Carr and Brian Ching.
3. Dynamo looking to remain top of the table
MLSsoccer.com's Jeff Bradley wrote a few weeks back that it's never too early to start looking at the red line that separates the playoff teams from the non-playoff teams. And while championships are not won in April, the Dynamo would love nothing more than to remain in one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference and keep their playoff destiny in their own hands. Houston currently sits in third place, two points behind conference-leading Sporting Kansas City and one point behind the Montreal Impact. A win on Saturday and a Sporting KC loss to the LA Galaxy could catapult the Dynamo to first place in the Eastern Conference.
4. Containing Toronto FC forward Robert Earnshaw
For full commentary on the Dynamo's thoughts on Robert Earnshaw, read this piece by Tom Dart. Earnshaw has been a revelation for Toronto FC in 2013, with five goals in his first six games. Can the Dynamo contain the Welshman and prevent his somersault celebration on Saturday?
5. The health of Boniek Garcia
Honduran midfielder Boniek Garcia has missed the last two matches with left Achilles tendonitis. In his stead, offseason acquisition Andrew Driver has filled in admirably, earning MLS Team of the Week honors for his performance against the Chicago Fire. Garcia returned to training on Thursday, but if Kinnear decides to rest the speedy winger then Driver's number could be called on Saturday once again.