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Dynamo look to rebound against Chivas USA
Thursday, 15 April 2010
The Dynamo will end their three-game home stand this Saturday when Chivas USA comes to town. For Houston, it’s a welcome opportunity to make amends for last week’s performance.

Anyone remember the 2006 Western Conference Semifinal that saw Houston clinch the series with a Brian Ching goal in added time and the subsequent bench-clearing brawl? How about the war of words between Dominic Kinnear and Preki after the 2007 regular season finale? Or the 4-0 pasting the Dynamo has put on Chivas not once, but twice (club records)?

While the games for the most part have been competitive and intense, Houston has by and large dominated Chivas. The Dynamo has lost only one regular season game to the LA-based side in its history and that was way back in 2006. Since then, the Dynamo has won 5, drawn 3, and held a +11 goal differential over Chivas. Most recently, the two teams played this preseason and should be fairly familiar with one another.

Paulo Nagamura and Brad Davis

Youth and experience
For the first time since 2006, a coach other than Preki will be leading Chivas. Martin Vazquez was hired in the offseason and in many ways, he’s the perfect for the team. As a player, Vazquez played for a number of teams in both Mexico and the US, even managing to become one of the few players to be capped by both countries’ national teams. While this is his first head coaching position, he has European coaching experience with Bayern Munich as an assistant and is familiar with the club culture and the unique characteristics of MLS. After claiming his first win last weekend against a hot Red Bull team, Vazquez will be looking to make it two in a row this week against Houston.

While results have been mixed thus far, Vazquez seems to have an emphasis on quick, attractive football that isn’t afraid to push forward. The problem for Vazquez has been getting Chivas to play his system for 90 minutes. His team also ranks as one of the youngest in the league, which doesn’t make grasping the new system any easier. Still, there is a lot of established talent on this team, not least of which are two potential US World Cup players. Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan not only bring much needed experience to a young team, they also bring talent. Kljestan will be asked to control the midfield against Houston and Bornstein will take every opportunity to get forward from his left back position and put pressure on the Houston defense. However, two of Chivas’ more important players will not be available, forward Maykel Galindo and veteran midfielder Ante Jazić sustained injuries.

Dynamo's options
Cam Weaver aggravated his right knee in training last week which has once again kept him on the sideline. Brian Ching continues to be sidelined with a hamstring injury. Coupled with the suspension of Luis Angel Landin, La Naranja will be extremely thin at forward. Dynamo re-signed Joseph Ngwenya, but the chances that he will be available for the game Saturday are slim-to-none. That means that Ghanaian Dominic Oduro is the only recognized forward on the Dynamo roster that is fit and able to play. Look for Coach Kinnear to push a midfielder up into a forward role to compensate, most likely Brian Mullan. Midfielder Richard Mulrooney sustained a right knee injury last week and given his recent injury struggles, a start for him on Saturday would be shocking. Lovel Palmer did well in Mulrooney’s place last week getting his first significant playing time in the process. Expect him to get his first start on Saturday.

Dom’s system
Few matches have been as poor as last week’s game. One constant through all of those poor games, through every Dynamo game, has been the system that Coach Kinnear has installed. A system that emphasizes player accountability and focus has meant that the Dynamo rarely play poorly in back-to-back weeks. Expect the Dynamo to come out with renewed determination and focus after this week’s training.

With Brian Mullan possibly playing a forward role this week and Danny Cruz possibly being asked to take his place in midfield, the Dynamo will have two players who can pressure the ball all over the pitch from their respective positions. Palmer’s early success gives the team more athleticism in the midfield than it’s had with Mulrooney. An overall improvement in team athleticism and work rate should lead to increased pressure on Chivas’ midfielders leading to more mistakes by Chivas and more opportunities for the Dynamo.

The lack of an established goal scorer and the search for collective chemistry means that a goal explosion by the Men in Orange is unlikely. But I can almost guarantee you that an improved performance is. Having had my prediction streak broken last week, I’ll be looking to start a new streak as the Dynamo.

Dynamo 1, Chivas USA 0


Want to be at the game? Check out the Texian Army's ticket offer for this weekend's match. You can't beat this deal!

In honor of Tax Day, get your tickets at $10.40 in section 231.

Saturday, April 17 - Dynamo v. Chivas USA at 3 p.m.