After a mid-week match against Bolton Wanderers, the Dynamo return to MLS play on Saturday against a team in a very similar situation to head coach Dominic Kinnear’s group.
The Dynamo travel to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA, who - like the Dynamo - are on a four-game unbeaten streak and working their way into the playoff picture. Houston is currently on 24 points, tied with San Jose for the final two playoff spots one point ahead of Chivas USA and two other teams entering their matchup on Saturday (9:30 p.m., KHOU 11.2, FOX Sports Houston Plus, SportsTalk 790, La Ranchera 850).
“[This game’s] very important,” said Dynamo All-Star midfielder Brad Davis. “We’re at a point in the season where we need to start picking up points for the playoff run.”
To stay on their unbeaten streak, the Dynamo will have to overcome a Chivas team that has picked up the pace recently under first-year head coach Robin Fraser. A big part of that has been the outstanding play of Nick LaBrocca, the All-Star midfielder and engine that drives the Chivas attack.
“He finds the ball well, especially working off their forwards,” said Dynamo midfielder and fellow All-Star Geoff Cameron. “You have to be aware of his movement, because he likes the ball at his feet. We have to be aware of him on and off the ball, but if we control the game possession-wise, we’ll do well.”
Kinnear has emphasized winning the possession battle as a key for the Dynamo in the last few weeks.
“Possession is always a key,” Kinnear said. “They have a lot of mobility, and you have to stay with runners. Our forwards have to be good at holding the ball up, and sometimes we have to play in behind them and stretch them.”
The Dynamo will have to execute that game plan without the services of Brian Ching and Colin Clark, who will be serving one-game suspensions stemming from their ejections against Sporting Kansas City last time out. But while Ching and Clark are out, the club could have the services of Jermaine Taylor. After undergoing testing for concussion-like symptoms following a collision against Kansas City, the defender was back on the training field Thursday morning and traveled with the club to LA.
Regardless of the personnel, this weekend’s match is another step in the Dynamo’s march to improve their position for the MLS playoffs.
“We put ourselves in a good position last game, and we’ve been getting some good results,” Davis said. “We’ve got to make a push and start getting three points to put ourselves in a good position come playoff time.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.