As other teams in MLS play make-up or exhibition games over the course of the next week, the Houston Dynamo will use the FIFA international fixture date to rest up and prepare for the two most important games of the season. With a busy past few months - including six games in July - the Dynamo have played more games than many of the teams they are competing with for playoff position. Head coach Dominic Kinnear believes the weekend off will be good for his squad.
"I think it's good to have the weekend off, because with the interntional break, everyone has guys going away to their respective national teams," Kinnear said. "With our team, we could be missing four players but we are only missing three with Andre [Hainault] choosing to stick around."
Honduran forward Carlo Costly and Jamaicans Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson joined their respective national teams earlier in the week for several international friendlies. Costly will play against the United States in Miami on Saturday. Then on Tuesday, the three Dynamo teammates will square off on the international stage when Honduras and Jamaica play a friendly at Estadio Francisco Morazon in Honduras. Defender Andre Hainault, who is a staple on the Canadian backline, chose to remain with the Dynamo and rest up for the team's home stretch instead of joining his national team for World Cup qualifiers against St. Lucia and Puerto Rico.
With the weekend off, the Dynamo have an opportunity to prepare for a stretch that will determine whether or not the team advances to the playoffs. The first game comes next Friday night on the road against a Portland Timbers club that will be equally hungry for three points. The Timbers currently sit three points behind the Dynamo in the standings for the final playoff spot but have one game in hand on Houston.
"I think it's good to have this break with the next two games coming up," Kinnear said. "It gives time for the guys to get away and get their minds right before we step back on the practice field on Monday. They understand how important Friday is to us."
After the October 14 match, the Dynamo will return home for a match against the LA Galaxy, the final regular-season game at Robertson Stadium. The Galaxy currently sit in first place in the Western Conference with a seven-point advantage over the Seattle Sounders in the race for the Supporters' Shield, the trophy awarded to the team that finishes with the most regular-season points in MLS. The Galaxy are expected to bring a strong lineup to Houston, but the team has also proven over the past few months that a Galaxy squad minus big-money stars can be as dangerous as any in MLS.
Although injuries have been a concern for Houston throughout the season, the Dynamo squad is almost as healthy as it has been all year, but forward Cam Weaver will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. With that said, Dynamo defender/midfielder Geoff Cameron, who has set a career high this season in minutes played (2,790) is looking forward to the weekend off and to taking advantage of the opportunity to rest his body.
"I certainly think it's an advantage for us," Cameron said of not having to play a game this weekend. "It's a good opportunity for everyone to re-energize their batteries. We have two very important games coming up, and we need to leave it all on the field, because it could be the last two games of the season for us."