The Dynamo meet the Portland Timbers at 10 p.m. CT tonight at Providence Park in a critical game as the Dynamo hope to climb the Western Conference standings. The game will be broadcast live on UniMás and can be heard on Yahoo Sports Radio 1560 AM and in Spanish on La Ranchera 850 AM and 101.7 FM. Here are some notes ahead of the game.
• Tonight is the third and final meeting between these clubs and Houston’s last chance to directly gain ground on Portland, one of seven teams the Dynamo are currently chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. The Dynamo will have ample opportunities to make up ground, with six of their final 10 remaining games against teams currently higher in the standings.
• Like seemingly every game over the last few months, Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle enters tonight with some injury concerns within his team. Ricardo Clark, who has missed the last two games, remains doubtful with a left hamstring strain. DaMarcus Beasley exited last weekend’s game at New England at halftime with a left calf strain while Raul Rodriguez missed the match with an adductor strain. Both players are questionable for tonight’s game. Giles Barnes is probable with right Achilles tendonitis and was limited in training early in the week.
• Coyle does have more options in midfield than the last few weeks. Boniek Garcia is continuing to build fitness and has played in two straight games while Alexander Lopez also could feature for the first time since July 18 at Real Salt Lake after missing four games with a groin strain.
• Like New England last week, the Timbers have a mostly healthy squad, with midfielder Ben Zemanski the only Portland player on the injury report. Head coach Caleb Porter guided his team through the absence of Diego Valeri and Will Johnson as they recovered from significant injuries and missed most of the first third of the seasons. The Timbers have four players in their defensive unit – goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey and defenders Liam Ridgewell, Alvas Powell and Jorge Villafaña – all of whom have play at least 2,110 minutes this season. Each one of the four ranks in the top 15 in MLS for minutes played. Entering the week, Portland is the only team in MLS with more than three players with 2,110 minutes or more (Note via Portland Timbers).
• The Timbers enter tonight’s game after posting three consecutive shutouts, but have never recorded four straight clean sheets in their five seasons in MLS.
• The Dynamo will look to conjure some late-season road magic from four years ago, when they visited Portland in October 2011 and captured a 2-0 win to solidify their playoff position, highlighted by a memorable goal from Danny Cruz and a goal from Andre Hainault, who turned down a call up from the Canada national team to play in the important road game.
• For the sixth consecutive game, the Dynamo have several available players on yellow-card warning and would be suspended for Wednesday’s road game at Colorado if they receive a caution tonight. Ricardo Clark, Kofi Sarkodie, Raul Rodriguez and Sheanon Williams must avoid a yellow card tonight.
• The Timbers have their own yellow card concerns, with defenders Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell also on yellow-card warning.
• The West Coast game means a late kickoff – 10 p.m. CT – but the Dynamo and Timbers will cap a big night of soccer in Houston. The Dash host the Seattle Reign in a must-win game at 7 p.m. at BBVA Compass Stadium and 9,000 tickets are already sold. With an hour in between the end of the Dash and the start of the game, it leaves ample time to get home or settled at a bar to watch the Dynamo try for what would arguably be the biggest win of the season. Enjoy the games!