Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution

MLS regular season kicks off Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium

THE BASICS
Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution
Saturday, March 8, 7:30 p.m. CT
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, TX

BROADCAST INFORMATION
CSN Houston - 7:30 p.m. (7:00 p.m. pregame) CHANNEL LISTINGS
MLS LIVE - 7:30 p.m.
Yahoo Sports Radio 1560 AM - 7:30 p.m. (7:00 p.m. pregame)
La Ranchera 850 AM - 7:30 p.m. (7:00 p.m. pregame)

PREVIEW

Two Eastern Conference playoff clubs from a season ago open their 2014 campaigns against each other when the Houston Dynamo play host to the New England Revolution. The Dynamo again reached the postseason last year, only to have their bid for a third consecutive MLS Cup appearance stopped short by the eventual champions. The Revolution returned to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in 2013.

REFEREES

REFEREE: Ramon Hernandez. SAR (bench): Isreal Fernandez; JAR (opposite): Marcos de Oliveira; 4th: TBA
MLS Career: 36 games; FC/gm: 28.2; Y/gm: 4.3; R: 7; pens: 9

INJURY REPORT, PRESENTED BY HOUSTON METHODIST

HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: Warren Creavalle – Knee tendonitis; Servando Carrasco: Right ankle sprain; Eric Brunner – Right ankle sprain

NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION -- OUT: Andrew Farrell (L tibial stress reaction); Lee Nguyen (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: Andy Dorman (concussion); Jose Goncalves; (R quad strain); Saer Sene (L ankle surgery); Chris Tierney ( L hamstring strain)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (17 meetings): Dynamo 4 wins, 17 goals … Revolution 7 wins, 22 goals … Ties 6
  • AT HOUSTON (8 meetings): Dynamo 2 wins, 5 goals … Revolution 5 wins, 9 goals … Ties 1
  • RETURN MATCHES: 4/12: New England Revolution vs. Houston Dynamo, 5 p.m. ET; 10/16: Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution, 7 p.m. CT
  • The clubs evenly split their three games a season ago. Each won at the other’s home ground – Houston taking a 2-0 victory May 18 in the only contest at BBVA Compass Stadium – before the teams concluded their series with a draw in Foxborough in September.
  • The Revolution have won on five of their last seven visits to Houston. New England last defeated Houston at Gillette Stadium in 2010.
  • The teams have played for three cups. They met in back-to-back MLS Cup Finals in 2006 and 2007, the Dynamo winning on both occasions (on penalty kicks in MLS Cup 2006; 2-1 in MLS Cup 2007). They also met in the 2008 SuperLiga final (won by New England on penalties).
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. NE: P22 W7 L7 D8 … Jay Heaps vs. HOU: P5 W1 L2 D2

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo kick off the 2014 season having seen their bid for a third consecutive trip to MLS Cup derailed a step short last year, in a conference final loss to eventual champion Sporting KC. Dominic Kinnear begins his ninth season in charge in Houston, the only coach the Dynamo have ever known, having led the club to the league championship game four times in eight seasons of existence.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was called upon to make four saves in keeping the clean sheet, including three saves in the opening seven minutes of the match. Two of the shots were from Dynamo striker Will Bruin from point blank range.
  • The Dynamo came closest to scoring on the stroke of halftime, when Aurelien Collin headed a Brad Davis free kick off the line. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was required to make just one save for the shutout.
  • Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was called upon to make four saves in keeping the clean sheet.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that held on for a 1-0 win against the Montréal Impact at BBVA Compass Stadium. Eric Brunner and Andrew Driver came into the side with Jermaine Taylor and Boniek Garcia away on national team duty.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Eric Brunner, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Andrew Driver, Warren Creavalle, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Giles Barnes (Cam Weaver 89), Will Bruin.

TEAM NEWS

  •  The Dynamo concluded their preseason with a 7-3-1 record after a 2-0 win against the NASL Charleston Battery in the final match of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Tony Cascio and Giles Barnes each scored their fifth  goals of the preseason in the victory.
  • Here’s the Dynamo team: Tally Hall; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst (Anthony Arena 84), Eric Brunner (AJ Cochran 41), Corey Ashe; Andrew Driver (Alexander López 50), Brad Davis (Jason Johnson 84), Ricardo Clark (Mike  Chabala* 86), Tony Cascio (Brian Ownby 84); Giles Barnes (Omar Cummings 79), Will Bruin (Mark Sherrod  84)
  • In a relatively quiet offseason, the biggest change for the Dynamo was the departure of Bobby Boswell through the re-entry draft, as he returned to D.C. United. Heading into the season opener, David Horst, Eric Brunner  and Jamaican international Jermaine Taylor will be in contention for the starting center back roles.
  • “They’re the start of the backbone, the spine of your team. You want strength and good communicators and guys who are good in the air. You don’t want your center backs to be easy to play against, so you want them to  be physical.”
  • There are some injury concerns entering the season opener. Holding midfielder Warren Creavalle had offseason surgery to address tendonitis in both knees, and Jermaine Taylor was able to feature until the final two preseason games after coming back from offseason surgery.
  • “I thought he looked good,” Kinnear said about Taylor. “He’s one of those players that doesn’t look out of sorts when he doesn’t play for a while. I thought his minutes were good and I’m sure he felt good about the way he  played and I think he played pretty good.”
  • With Brian Ching and Cam Weaver also having departed – club icon Ching announcing his retirement at the end of last season – the first-choice strike pair will be manned by Giles Barnes and Will Bruin.
  • The Dynamo are also hoping to count upon a healthy Omar Cummings. After knee injuries limited him to just  11 league appearances, Cummings scored twice against the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference  semifinals.
  • “It’s almost like a new signing because of what happened last year,” Kinnear said. “You want competition at all spots. It makes everyone better. … He’s scored some good goals and obviously you want him pushing and  scoring goals in the preseason because that makes it better for competition.”
  • Cascio could also play a feature role for the Dynamo, having come to the club from the Colorado Rapids in the first intra-league loan in MLS history.
  • “He might be a surprise to some people that don’t really know him too well, but following him in college and what I saw in Colorado I thought he would fit in,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “I think he gets it. When he  takes that first step forward and takes people on, that’s the reason we tried to acquire him.”