With the Houston Dynamo currently on the outside looking in at the playoff race, every match becomes that much more critical, including Saturday night’s showdown with the Columbus Crew, the top team in the Eastern Conference.
“Their defense is very stingy, and they’ve got some explosive guys on the wings,” said Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell. “[Guillermo Barros] Schelotto is a pretty impressive player, especially in this league.”
Since Houston’s last league game was against Columbus just two weeks ago at Robertson Stadium, each team is fresh in the other’s mind. On that night, the teams battled to a scoreless draw, but Dynamo players know the Crew are a different animal on their home turf.
“Defensively I thought we were excellent, as we really limited their opportunities,” said Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad. “However, they will probably play a different style at home. But we take that confidence knowing that we were able to shut them down.”
Columbus enters the match with both Frankie Hejduk and Brian Carroll out due, respectively, to suspension and injury. For Houston, it seems likely that Onstad will play despite suffering from the effects of an abdominal strain, but coach Dominic Kinnear may choose to be cautious after the impressive play of backup goalkeeper Tally Hall in SuperLiga.
“Against Pachuca, he was fantastic, and he carried that through to the next two games,” Onstad said about Hall. “He’s a very good goalkeeper and has a great future ahead of him. I was very impressed watching from the stands, as he was in great position and showed some great leadership out there.”
More intrigue is at central midfield. While Anthony Obodai was impressive against Puebla defensively and on the ball, his work rate and stamina in the Houston humidity was lacking. Brad Davis continues to look more comfortable on the left, so it seems likely that Houston will continue to match Richard Mulrooney and Lovel Palmer in the middle.
Regardless of the lineup, getting a result in Columbus, where the Crew are 7-2, takes more than just the right personnel decisions. It requires the right mentality.
“Going in there, it’s not an easy task,” Boswell said. “But if there is a group of guys that can do it, it is this group.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or comments can be sent via email to email@example.com.