Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC
Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7:30 p.m. CT
BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Two sides boasting plenty of MLS history will look to seize the early part of the 2017 season, hoping to redirect the narrative from a less-than-stellar finish last year. It's really anyone's match, though. The Dynamo opened this season's campaign strong at home, taking down reigning champs the Seattle Sounders 2-1, thanks in part to the first-ever Houston goal by Erick "Cubo" Torres. Columbus, meanwhile, settled for a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire for their season opener (thank Ethan Finlay for their goal). Still, Crew SC managed to win the lone meeting between the two teams last year, with a 1-0 result last Apr. 23 at MAPFRE Stadium.
Houston achieved some fairly dramatic retooling over the offseason, shedding several roster mainstays and making some wise signings. Honduran international Romell Quioto looks to be the most impactful arrival from the outset, as he turned heads with his goalscoring performance against the Sounders. And although he's not a new signing, Designated Player Erick 'Cubo' Torres looks to have a new lease on life after a forgettable 2016 campaign. Now reunited with new Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who managed him at Chivas USA, Torres finally scored his first Dynamo goal in Week 1. The combination of Torres, Quioto and Alberth Elis, made for an impressive front three, and the Dynamo will look to build on that promising start.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: QUESTIONABLE – GK Joe Willis (knee injury)
Projected starting XI (4-3-3): Tyler Deric (GK) — A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley — Ricardo Clark, Eric Alexander, Alex – Alberth Elis, Cubo Torres, Romell Quioto
Notes: Elis completed four dribbles last weekend. Only two players in the league registered more. There were only two instances of a Dynamo player completing four dribbles in a single game in all of last season.
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Columbus Crew SC
Columbus took several promising spots from their season-opening draw with Chicago. First, after parting ways with longtime goalkeeper Steve Clark in the offseason, they can feel pretty optimistic about new-guy Zack Steffen. He made his MLS debut in that match and came thisclose to a clean sheet, also managing a couple of impressive saves. Meanwhile, Ethan Finlay's finally back on the score sheet after a dry spell that started last September – and the assist from Justin Meram shows the latter's on track to potentially match his career high of them from last season.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – GK - Gaston Sauro (knee injury), M Dilly Duka (calf contusion) QUESTIONABLE – D - Waylon Francis (right shoulder injury), M - Abuchi Obinwa (left thigh strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Zack Steffen (GK) -- Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Nicolai Naess, Jukka Raitala -- Mohammed Abu, Wil Trapp -- Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram -- Ola Kamara
Notes: Meram's assist for Ethan Finlay’s goal last week snapped a five-game streak without an assist. Meram now has 19 regular season assists since the start of the 2015 campaign, tied for the seventh-most in the league.
In the 22 regular-season match-ups to date between the two teams, the Dynamo have found the competition mostly hard-fought, but still held their own – they've won five times and lost seven, but tallied 10 draws total. In fact, of the 11 of these match-ups played in Houston, six have ended in draws – though the Dynamo have won four of the remaining five.
- Overall: Dynamo 5 wins (23 goals) … Columbus 7 wins (29 goals) … Ties 10
- At Houston: Dynamo 4 wins (14 goals) … Columbus 1 win (10 goals) … Ties 6
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: Adam Garner (bench side), Nick Uranga (far side)
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford