7.22.2020 HOUvLAG Preview

Preview | Houston Dynamo close group stage against LA Galaxy

The Houston Dynamo face the LA Galaxy on Thursday in their final group game of the MLS is Back Tournament on Thursday. With a victory, Houston can secure a top-three finish and vie for a spot as one of the four best third-place teams.

Houston will be tasked to reach the second round without forward Alberth Elis who received a red card at the end of Houston’s 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday. Elis scored Houston’s only goal of the game from the penalty spot late in the second half. Houston will look to forwards like Niko Hansen, Nico Lemoine and Tommy McNamara for a spark against the Galaxy.

Thursday’s match will be the second meeting with the Galaxy this season after both clubs met in the season opener in front of a sold-out crowd at BBVA Stadium. The Galaxy took the lead in the first half courtesy of a solo effort from Cristian Pavon. Dynamo defender Zarek Valentin found forward Mauro Manotas in the second half for the equalizer. Manotas can make his 150th appearance for the club in all competitions for the Dynamo on Thursday and he sits just seven goals shy of the all-time club record for goals scored in the regular season.

The Dynamo backline will keep an eye on Pavon who has five goals and nine assists in 15 games for the Galaxy since joining the club last November.

The Galaxy enter Thursday’s game with back-to-back losses after they fell to LAFC 6-2 on Saturday. Los Angeles is missing two key pieces as Javier “Chicharito” Hernanadez withdrew from the tournament due to a calf injury and Jonathan Dos Santos recovers from hernia surgery. The Galaxy will also be without Aleksandar Katai after both parties mutually agreed to part ways in June.

The Galaxy are currently winless in their first four games of the year after they opened the season in Houston and fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps at home prior to the suspension of league play due to the pandemic. The Galaxy will look to veterans like Joe Corona and Sebastian Lleget for a spark as they aim to turnaround their rocky start.

The knockout round of the MLS is Back Tournament will begin on July 25 and run through July 28. The winner of Group F is scheduled to play on July 28. The group runner up will play on July 27 and should a third-place team from Group F qualify, that team will play on July 26.

WHO:

Houston Dynamo vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

WHEN:

Thursday, July 23 – 7:00 p.m. CDT

TV:

FS1 (John Strong and Stuart Holden) and TUDN

RADIO:

TUDN Radio Houston 1010 AM (Daniel Mejia and Lester Gretsch)

 Here are three key points ahead of Monday’s game:

  1. WIN AND YOU’RE IN As of Thursday evening, the Dynamo can secure a spot in the knockout round with a victory against the Galaxy. Two games in the remaining fixtures can influence the standings as the New York Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati meet later this evening for an automatic bid to the quarterfinals. The Vancouver Whitecaps and Chicago Fire will play on Thursday morning for a chance to secure a wild card spot. A victory for New York, Cincinnati or Chicago would pave the way for Houston to qualify to the next round with four points. Houston could play as early as Sunday, July 26, but a Timbers victory against LAFC and favorable goal difference would give Houston a shot at a second-place finish, and secure the 10 p.m. CDT window on July 27 in the knockout round.
  2.  ­Houston finished with 15 chances created and 17 open play crosses against the Timbers on Saturday, but only four shots on goal. The Timbers played a large role in the discrepancy as they blocked 11 shots throughout the game. Houston will look to continue applying heavy offensive pressure by maintaining a high line and incorporating their outside backs in the push forward. Defender Adam Lundkvist will play a key role in that push and looks to build on his performance against the Timbers where he led the team in crosses with 13 and three of those crosses forced heavy pressure according to Opta. The Swedish outside back was also the only defender to tally key passes last Saturday and finished with two.
  3.  – The Galaxy are currently winless in their first four games of the year after they opened the season in Houston and fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps at home prior to the suspension of league play due to the pandemic. The Galaxy will look to veterans like Joe Corona and Sebastian Lleget for a spark as they aim to turnaround their rocky start.