With key quartet finally back, Houston Dynamo looking forward to making playoff push

In 2012, the Houston Dynamo had four key players running the show during the playoffs – Will Bruin, Boniek Garcia, Corey Ashe and Brad Davis

However, that quartet’s seldom been on the same field this season. In fact, they’ve only started eight games – with a record of 3-3-2 – together in 2013.

Against the Columbus Crew on Saturday (8 p.m. CT; TICKETS) the Dynamo will have those four key contributors together for the first time since May 26 and are hoping that their return will add to a now-traditional late-season playoff push.

“You have a couple guys that are game-changers for us for the past couple of years that are available now,” center back Bobby Boswell said. “When you have some key guys, the soccer’s usually better, but you still have to come out and have the effort.”

The main culprits from keeping the group away have been injuries and international absences. In some cases, especially Garcia’s, both factors has contributed to the wear and tear.

Now the injuries look to have subsided and the schedule, at least for the near future, looks clear. It’s a timely turn of events as the Dynamo find themselves outside the top five, due to tiebreakers, in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season.

“Dom’s job’s been really difficult this year. I think he’s had a chance to pick from the entire group of guys only four or five times this year,” Davis said. “We have 14 games left and we’re sitting tied for fifth. We’re in an alright position but we can’t say that for long. We need to start getting things going and getting our points.”

The biggest boost from the group coming back will be felt in Houston’s attack. With the likes of Garcia and Davis back, the attack benefits from players who have the ability to create a moment of brilliance in both the run of play and on set pieces.

“You saw that at the beginning of the season we had a healthy squad and now we’re getting that back,” said Bruin, who’s been on the positive end of two assists from Davis and Garcia. “I think we’re definitely in a position to string some wins together … and it starts by getting a win at home [Saturday].”

Houston will be looking to extend their three-game unbeaten streak against a struggling Crew team that’s currently seven points behind Houston. If they can jump on Columbus early, the Dynamo could serve a potential knockout blow to the Crew while continuing their own efforts.

“Having all those guys here and training is a big plus,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “You don’t want to sit and complain that this guy’s not here or this guy, it does you no good. But now to have all these guys here it poses selection problems for me, which is a good thing to have and something I haven’t had in a long time.”

Houston still won’t be at full strength Saturday with Andrew Driver ailing from tendonitis in his right Achilles suffered last Saturday. According to Kinnear the injury is “day-to-day” and he hopes to have Driver, who has 3 goals in 17 starts, back for their next match versus Real Salt Lake.

“We were hoping as we got him out of the game against Chicago that we caught it in enough time to where he could be available. That’s not to be the case,” Kinnear said. “You look at it and he’s started 17 games. To not have him on the field at all is going to be really strange.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.