HOUSTON -- The Dynamo want to build upon some of the momentum gained in last week’s road tie against Toronto FC and snag their first win against an MLS side in nearly two months.
“I think we competed well [against Toronto],” said Houston defender Andrew Hainault. “Hopefully we have turned the corner and learned from the mistakes that we made and turn these ties into wins.”
The Dynamo, whose latest victory dates back to their match versus D.C. United on May 22, know that they will have their hands full when they host the Columbus Crew Saturday night.
“[Columbus are] one of the best teams in the league the last couple of years,” said Hainault about the Eastern Conference leaders. “It’s always a tough game.”
In order to have some success against the Crew, Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear believes that they “have to bring the same attitude we brought against Toronto.”
“We have to move the ball well and our forwards have to hold it against two strong central defenders,” he added. “Our shape in attack is [also] big because when the ball turns over, [Guillermo Barros] Schelotto finds little pockets of space.”
Hence, the second ingredient in the formula will be for Houston to keep their eyes on Schelotto at all times. The midfield maestro has produced five goals and four assist in 12 games this season. But the Argentine isn’t the Crew's only threat. The Dynamo will also have to deal with Robbie Rogers, Eddie Gaven and the Crew forwards.
“Schelotto is one of the most skillful players in the league. You can say he is old, but he’s still got it,” said Eddie Robinson. “Then, [Jason] Garey and [Steven] Lenhart are two of the hardest working guys in the league. For 90 minutes, they are going to be pests, be on your back and be working hard. If you don’t match that, they will give you a handful.”
Houston’s greatest worry, however, might not be the Crew's players but rather their own. The team enters the game short-handed after Joseph Ngwenya’s scuffle in Toronto earned him a suspension, and Ryan Cochrane’s injury will keep him out of the game. Furthermore, midfielder Brad Davis, who has been suffering from a pulled hip flexor, likely won’t know if he’s ready to go until gametime.
“I’m feeling much better,” said Davis, “but I still haven’t fully gotten after a ball. I am going to keep pushing it. I’m feeling good as of right now, but I’ll talk to Dom and see what he wants to do.”
If Davis can’t go, Houston will likely start Richard Mulrooney and Lovel Palmer in central midfield.
Regardless of who plays, a win on Saturday could give Houston the confidence they need to make a strong run in the second half of the season.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.