Chivas USA (1-2-0) at Houston Dynamo (1-1-1)
Saturday, April 17, 3:00 p.m.
All-Time Record: The Dynamo lead the regular season series 6-1-5. They lead the overall series 7-2-5 and are 6-0-2 overall at home.
TeleFutura, KHOU 11.2
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SportsTalk 790, La Ranchera 850
With playoff seeding on the line, Houston ended its 2009 season with a 3-2 victory last October on the road against Chivas USA. The Dynamo jumped out early with the first three goals (Andrew Hainault 26', Dominic Oduro 29' and Abe Thompson 52'). The Goats battled back through Michael Lahoud (59') and an Eduardo Lillingston PK in the 88th minute. With an offside goal for Chivas USA called back and a late opportunity striking the side netting, Houston was lucky to escape with three points and a tie for first in the Western Conference.
What's at Stake?
While it's early in the season, both teams will want to keep up with the pace in the Western Conference. Houston cannot afford to fall off the pace with the front end of its schedule loaded with home games. Chivas USA are already tied for sixth place in the West and a third loss may continue to move them down the table. Both teams have been plagued by injuries, with Brian Ching, Cam Weaver, and Richard Mulrooney out for Houston and Ante Jazic and Maykel Galindo out for Chivas USA. As a result, the depth of both teams will be tested early.
Heroes & Villains
Corey Ashe/Danny Cruz v. Jonathan Bornstein: While the Dynamo are crossing their fingers for all the paperwork to be processed for Joseph Ngwenya's inclusion, it seems unlikely the former Houston hero’s signing will be completed in time. As a result, Brian Mullan will likely move to forward, which opens a spot up in the Dynamo midfield. Corey Ashe would normally be the next midfielder in line to start, but he suffered a knock at the end of practice on Thursday and could recover in time for Saturday. If not, Danny Cruz may get his first MLS start. With Jazic out for Chivas USA, Jonathan Bornstein likely will line up at left back. His ability to move up into the attack will be hampered if Ashe or Cruz can keep him busy.
Sacha Kljestan vs. Brad Davis: With Houston likely missing a target forward, expect Davis to pinch in more centrally and expect to see the ball played more on the ground to Mullan and Oduro. While Davis might be better known for his delivery on crosses and set pieces, his creativity and touch should allow him to adjust to the change in Dynamo tactics for this week. Kljestan provides the offensive creativity for Chivas USA, and Davis’ defensive abilities along with left back Mike Chabala might be more important to the Dynamo success this week than their offensive contributions.
Stat of the Day
Chivas USA have failed to score in their last 712 minutes at Robertson Stadium. That equates to nearly eight full games without a goal and includes seven consecutive shutouts dating back to 2006.
He Said It
“They never stray away from their short passing game, and they're good in possession, so it’s important for us to try and pressure them and not get to the point where we’re trying to chase the ball, because they pass the ball and they move well. So it’s important for us to stay with runners and not gamble, because they can make you pay for lapses in concentration.” -- Houston coach Dominic Kinnear