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Can Dynamo capitalize on DC United?
Friday, 21 May 2010
After a short road trip, the Dynamo returns to play a struggling DC United at Robertson this Saturday. With a longer than normal break and a home field dominance, Houston will look to dispose of a United side that resides in a very unusual place Ė last place.

dcunited And itís not just that theyíre in last place so far this season, but how: one measly win and seven losses in eight games played. For a franchise that is probably the most successful and decorated in MLS history, last place is neither customary nor acceptable to players and fans alike. DC has a rich legacy of players who on their way to winning trophies have become MLS legends, but some of those same players are in part a cause of their current status.

Legacy lost?
For years names like Ben Olsen, Jaime Moreno, and more recently, Luciano Emilio have been synonymous with DC United. Those same players are mere shadows of themselves now and no one has really stepped in to replace their impact. Olsen finally announced his retirement at the end of last season after an injury-plagued career. At 36, Moreno continues to plod along for DC but doesnít play the role that he once did. He rarely starts these days and his 1 goal and 0 assists thus far this season suggest that his career is nearing its end. Emilio only recently joined the team this season as a contract dispute suggested that he and the club would part ways. While DC was disappointed to see his goal totals drop the last two seasons, they would gladly take a 10 goal season from Emilio in 2010 if heís capable. But is he?

They hope so. Currently, the club has scored merely four goals in 2010. Thatís the worst in the league. Their defense hasnít fared better, giving up 16 goals. That too is worst in the league. But thatís not to say that they donít have talent. Salvadoran National Team midfielder Christian Castillo was brought in after some impressive performances against the United States during World Cup Qualifying. After spending last season in the Mexican second division, much was expected from the 25-year-old. Thus far, he has been unable to deliver Ė failing to register a goal or an assist in his MLS appearances. Still, heís the young talent that United must look towards in their new era. Santino Quaranta and Chris Pontius are two other younger, dynamic players with the potential to cause trouble for opposing defenses. Quaranta is out with a staph infection and Pontius is questionable. In fact, no fewer than five players have been ruled out for Saturdayís match.

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For the Men in Orange, things arenít nearly as bleak but thatís not to say that they donít have concerns. The W-L-W-L streak continues being frustrating and the team desperately needs to find some consistency if itís going to challenge LA for first in the conference.

Absences and some fresh faces
While the Dynamo is still second in the Western Conference, the Galaxy has essentially lapped them in the standings Ė doubling the Dynamo point total of 13. Only three points keeps La Naranja out of last place in the ultra competitive conference. Houston needs wins, preferably several wins in a row. Brian Ching is away with the US National Team, but heís not the only player away on national team duty. Pat Onstad and Andrew Hainault were both called up by Canada for a friendly against Argentina this week. The commitments leave the Orange a bit shorthanded but Houston received some good news. After waiting five weeks for FIFA clearance, forward Joseph Ngwenya is finally able to make his return to the club and will be available this weekend. Furthermore, Cam Weaver and Luis Angel Landin have recovered enough from their respective injuries to provide options for Coach Kinnear at forward. Tally Hall will get his first MLS start in Onstadís absence and either Richard Mulrooney or Craig Waibel will take Hainaultís place at right back.

The streak so far
My predictions have hit a losing streak. A strong start has seen me falter recently but Iím undeterred. Itís time to get back to basics. I tried to outthink things when clearly only one thing mattersÖthe streak. The Dynamo has alternated between wins and losses in the last seven games. I should never have gone against the power of the mighty streak. Given that the Dynamo lost to RSL in their last game, I am forced to pick a win in this game. The streak would have it no other way and I must obey the streak. Since the game is at home against a pretty poor team with injury problems, I really like my chances. In fact, Iíd be willing to bet every dollar that I make writing this column.

Prediction:
Dynamo 3, DC United 1

Season Prediction Record: 5-4