In a series that’s had its share of hard tackles, it’s been goals that have defined the encounters between the Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact.
In four games between the two the winner, the home team in three affairs, has won by two or more goals. Saturday the two clubs will meet at Stade Saputo in an important Eastern Conference playoff battle where just two points separate the teams (6 pm CT; CSN Plus).
This time, the Dynamo are looking to become the first visiting team in the series to come out on the right side of those shootouts in a series that’s gaining in steam.
“I think that’s what they kind of want to do, get into a shootout,” center back Bobby Boswell said. “They want to outscore you and as a defender you hate those kinds of games, but if you can shut them down and limit their chances it works out for you.”
“They’re definitely an attacking team that likes to get forward and score goals,” added midfielder Brad Davis. “If we fall into that we can get into a little bit of trouble.”
That is what happened the last time the clubs met in Montreal, the site of this weekend’s match, and it did not work out for Houston. The game was up and down and there were a number of chances, 39 shots in total, but it was Montreal who were able to put them away in the 2-0 victory.
“We let them off the hook a little bit the last time we played them,” forward Will Bruin said about Houston’s performance, where they generated 18 of those 39 chances but put only two on goal.
“Last time we played them in Montreal we didn’t finish [our chances]. We’re going to finish them this weekend.”
Bruin and Houston have been putting chances away in the last month-and-a-half, scoring 10 goals in the last six games.
One of the changes that have led to that outburst is the return to full form and availability of Davis and Boniek Garcia. The pair adds a creative element to the game and provides a sense of possession to the Dynamo attack. It’s no coincidence that the pair was missing when the Impact beat the Dynamo in June.
Garcia and Davis will help Houston in a game that, if history is any indication, will take more than a few goals to win.
“I think we’re developing a little bit of a rivalry against Montreal,” Boswell said. “They play hard and their coach [Marco Schallibaum] seems pretty intense. It’s kind of how we play too and some people may say our [head] coach [Dominic Kinnear] is a little intense at times.
“We have to try and keep them off the score sheet,” Boswell added. “We know where they are in the standings and know where we are so you obviously want to try and move up when we can and they’re in our way.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.