There will be some new names on the lineup card Dominic Kinnear fills out Thursday night.
When the Houston Dynamo head coach makes his selections to face Real Salt Lake, he will have to replace several starters and contributors due to international call-ups or injuries.
Nowhere will that be more evident than on the backline, where the club will miss two starters in Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault to national team duty as well as Warren Creavalle, who is listed as out on Tuesday's injury report with an ankle sprain.
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“Obviously you’re missing guys and have guys injured but that’s the way it goes,” Kinnear said after Wednesday’s training. “Kofi [Sarkodie] stepped on the field Sunday and played pretty well and [Nathan Sturgis] played well back there and [Ricardo Clark’s] played there in Germany so you do have cover.”
Houston will also be missing Je-Vaughn Watson and Boniek Garcia in the midfield and possibly Adam Moffat, who is listed as doubtful with a groin injury on Tuesday’s injury report. As Kinnear builds a lineup for Thursday night, it seems certain that those who have been waiting for an opportunity to play could get their chance.
“It’s time for other guys to step up and make Dom have tough decisions to make about who he puts on the field throughout the rest of the season,” striker Will Bruin said. “Guys are going to be working for each other and working hard, so that’s going to be a good thing.”
With a new defense sure to grace the field Thursday, Houston will rely on the leadership of players such as Bobby Boswell and Corey Ashe to organize the type of defensive performance the club is hoping will make their match against RSL a starting point for a playoff push.
“It’s an important game, every game is because you need the points,” Sarkodie said. “We’ve got to stick to that and really try and be organized as best as possible Thursday even with the new faces. Any match you know the guy next to you is [going to] work hard. As long as that’s there and we’re working for each other throughout the match it will be good. It’s a big game so everyone needs to play well.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.