The Dynamo begin their most important week of the season on Sunday with Eastern Conference co-leader D.C. United visiting Houston to start a three-game homestand for the Dynamo. The critical stretch includes three games in seven days against Eastern Conference foes, with matches against Sporting Kansas City (tied with United for first place in the East) on Wednesday, and the Montreal Impact (four points behind Houston) on July 21.
Sunday’s match is the third meeting this year between the Dynamo and D.C. United, with each club earning a home win. United won a high-scoring affair on April 28 at RFK Stadium, capturing a 3-2 win, with United forward Maicon Santos and Dynamo striker Will Bruin matching wits with two goals apiece.
The second meeting proved more defensive, with both clubs battling the midday heat in the inaugural match at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12. With the Dynamo dominating possession in the second half, Brad Davis provided a sensational 30-yard strike for the only goal in a 1-0 win.
Both clubs enter Sunday’s match on good form. Houston is unbeaten in three straight, with consecutive clean sheets, while United has won four of its last five. United has not played since it defeated the Montreal Impact, 3-0, on June 30, and should be well-rested.
The Dynamo are 4-0-3 at BBVA Compass Stadium and have not lost a home MLS game since June 18, 2011, a span on 16 games. United is 3-4-1 on the road this year but has never won in Houston. The Dynamo are 6-0-1 in home games against D.C., including a lopsided goal differential, with the Dynamo outscoring United 13-4 at home.
Sunday also features two of the top scorers in the league, with Houston’s Will Bruin and United’s Chris Pontius tied for fourth in MLS with nine goals.
Bruin has scored five career goals in just four games against D.C. United. He recorded a hat trick against United on April 29, 2011 at Robertson Stadium and scored twice in the April 28 meeting at RFK Stadium this year.
Here are some key matchups for Sunday’s game:
Brad Davis vs. Perry Kitchen: With the Dynamo’s shift to a 4-3-3, Davis has moved inside to form a midfield trio with Adam Moffat and Luiz Camargo the last two games. Kitchen has been the key defensive shell for United’s back line, allowing United’s five attacking players to get forward with his cover. Davis will look to combine with Boniek Garcia, Bruin and Mac Kandji, while Kitchen will try and slow the Houston attack. Kitchen was injured in the 28th minute of the Dynamo-United match on May 12, and it was an important loss for United.
Dwayne De Rosario vs. Adam Moffat: In United’s 3-2 win on April 28, De Rosario had a vintage game, with a goal, assist and several long runs from midfield. Moffat had the upper hand on May 12, however, keeping De Rosario quiet as United generated just four shots all afternoon. De Rosario leads the league with ten assists, and Moffat will be in charge on limiting the veteran.
Boniek Garcia vs. Daniel Woolard: Honduras international Boniek Garcia has been everything the Dynamo expected when they acquired him on June 7. The crafty attacker has ran at defenses and been dynamic on the right flank in his three games with Houston. Woolard has been a steady hand at the back for United, starting 16 consecutive games at left back or center back. He’ll likely play left back with a healthy United squad arriving in Houston, and will draw the tough assignment of Garcia, who nearly scored on Saturday at Kansas City and repeatedly beat Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic.