Power outages and a disallowed goal left the Houston Dynamo wondering what might have been at the end of the 2009 season, and with a decidedly bad taste in their mouths provided by the Los Angeles Galaxy.
But the Dynamo get another go-round this weekend, looking to take the first cathartic step to moving past last year’s Western Conference finals where things turned so dark so quickly.
“We have that bitter taste from last year, but it’s a new year and we have to take care of business at home,” Dynamo midfielder Geoff Cameron said. “Hopefully we can use some of that anger for our loss last year [and focus it] for revenge this year.”
For the Dynamo to be exact some revenge, the team will have to find a way to slow down Landon Donovan, the catalyst for the Galaxy attack.
“I don’t think you can find a weakness in his game,” Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear said. “He has everything for me. He sees the game better than most, he’s incredibly quick, fast, great balance, can strike the ball well with both feet, a great finisher and great passer of the ball. I find it odd that people always try to poke holes in the way he’s played and prepared himself over the years when all he’s done is been the best player this country has ever seen.”
The Dynamo players believe to be successful they will have to play more to their strengths than focusing in on Donovan or his teammates.
“I don’t know if you ever slow down Landon,” said Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad. “He’s certainly the best player in our league. That’s not what you key on. You try to play to our strengths, to the things that make us successful, pressuring the ball and making things difficult for them to play.”
Houston failed to score in three outings against the Galaxy in 2009, a trend the team is looking to change in a pivotal early season showdown.
“I will give credit last year, [Galaxy ‘keeper Donovan] Ricketts pulled off one or two excellent games, so hopefully he will have a bad day,” Kinnear said. “It’s easier said than done, but if we get our two forwards combining and playing well together, Dominic [Oduro]’s pace gives most defenses problems and with Luis [Ángel Landín] getting more confident and healthy, it can be very beneficial to us.”
A regular-season win against the Galaxy won’t exorcise all the team’s demons from 2009, but it will definitely put the team on the right path to where it wants to be in 2010.
“It’s early in the season, third game, and we are just trying to build for this season and get on a good run,” noted defender Ryan Cochrane. “The goal is to get to the MLS Cup final, so I wouldn’t say it’s a revenge game, but it’s definitely one we want to win.”
Forward Cam Weaver likely won’t be match fit and might not be available off the bench on Saturday. Defender Andrew Hainault broke his hand last week, but should still be available for selection despite the injury. Eddie Robinson should also be available as he was not listed on the injury report this week.