Wilf Thorne/Houston Dynamo

Match Preview: Dynamo at Columbus

The basics

Columbus Crew (9-3-4, 31 points; 1st in Eastern Conference) vs. Houston Dynamo (5-7-4, 19 points; 6th in Western Conference)
Saturday, July 24, 6:30 p.m. CT
Crew Stadium, Columbus OH

All-time record: Series tied 2-2-5. Crew lead 2-1-1 in Columbus.

Broadcast info

KHOU 11.2
FOX Sports Houston Plus
TV Informa
SportsTalk 790 AM
La Ranchera 850 AM

What's at stake?

It's been more than two months without an MLS win for the Dynamo, who head into Crew Stadium riding a six-game winless streak in league play but just went 2-0-1 in SuperLiga action. The MLS streak includes a scoreless draw at Robertson Stadium against the Crew on July 10. The Crew want to end a three-game homestand on a positive note before traveling to Chivas USA, Philadelphia, and Real Salt Lake.

Columbus Crew news

With defender Frankie Hejduk (red-card suspension) and MF Brian Carroll (right-ankle sprain) out, expect a shuffled lineup. Adam Moffat practiced at right back and rookie defender Shaun Francis could see action. Forward Emilio Renteria will get an encore performance after scoring against New York last week. Said Carroll on this week's matchup with Houston: “It’s a solid team top to bottom, and whether you play them home or away, it’s just a tough game.”

Houston Dynamo news

Saturday will mark the Dynamo's seventh match this month, including the U.S. Open Cup and SuperLiga. Their physical and hard-fought (12 cards, 35 fouls) 1-0 win against Mexico’s Puebla in the SuperLiga on Wednesday gave the Dynamo a 2-1-3 record in all July games. Saturday's match also marks the debut for former New England standout Steve Ralston, who joined the coaching staff as an assistant after John Spencer left last week. Said midfielder Brad Davis: “He’s been a great ambassador to this league and a great player, and I think he’s got a great soccer mind.”

Heroes & villains

Houston forward Brian Ching v. Crew defender Chad Marshall: Next week they will be All-Star teammates against Manchester United, but Saturday they will be locked in a duel that could decide the match. Ching is probably still wondering how he missed an open look against the Crew in the last meeting, while Marshall has overcome a stretch of injuries and is in the running for a third straight MLS Defender of the Year award.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm”:

Expect the flags to go up early and often. Houston’s 62 offside calls lead the league. Columbus (59) is second.