The overriding theme in Houston's 3-1 win over C.D. FAS a month ago was aerial domination. If the Dynamo have their way, Thursday night will follow the same basic blueprint.
Houston dominated the Salvadoran club in the air to the tune of three headed goals, capitalizing on an undersized and disorganized FAS defense to notch an opening victory in CONCACAF Champions League play.
In Thursday’s return bout (7 pm CT, FOX Soccer), Houston expects more of the same.
"It’s an advantage we have and I think we need to exploit that,” Cam Weaver, who was joined by Brian Ching and Je-Vaughn Watson as goalscorers in the August 22 win, told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “It’s no secret to anyone what we’re going to try and do, but as long as we execute like we know how, it should work out.”
The plan a month ago was to set the physical terms early. On Thursday, head coach Dominic Kinnear will be looking for his club to do the same by establishing a physical advantage in the early going to reinforce the home-field advantage that has them yet to taste defeat in league play at BBVA Compass Stadium.
"I think it’s important to come out right away and let them know it’s not going to be an easy night,” Kinnear said. “They’re still technically very good players and if you take the game easy, they’ll grow in confidence, so from the beginning it’s important for us to come out and let them know it’s not going to be easy.”
Barnes ready for action
Last week, Giles Barnes saw his first MLS action with nine minutes against Sporting Kansas City. After training Wednesday, the English import was eager for a full shift.
“I wish it was today so I can get out there,” Barnes told MLSsoccer.com. “I feel fit and ready to go. I’ll be ready if I’m called upon. I’m just champing at the bit to get going.”
If called upon, the stout Barnes could prove to be a handful for FAS as both a creative playmaker and free-kick threat.
“It’s good for him and us to have him on the field,” Ching said. “It gives us another option. He has a great shot and looks to get forward quite a bit and has a little creative flair and that’s going to help us out.”
Reinforcements on the way
While Kinnear did not tip his lineup Wednesday, it is likely he will call on his squad’s depth to combat the congested schedule.
While defenders Corey Ashe (out, hamstring strain) and Jermaine Taylor (questionable, quad contusion) are both on the injury report, Houston will get a lift from the return of defender Warren Creavalle and the likely return of midfielder Adam Moffat.
“He seems to be OK and is cleared to play and be involved,” Kinnear said of Moffat. “He’s been missing for a little while and you miss his steel in midfield. He’s back to being healthy which is good for us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.