Preview: Eastern foes DC, Houston square off at RFK

DC United vs. Houston Dynamo

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo meet for the second time this season in a key match in the Eastern Conference when the clubs face off Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United return home after coming away from Real Salt Lake with a late 1-1 draw last weekend. The Dynamo went down to defeat at home last weekend, falling 2-0 to Columbus.

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REFEREE: Mark Kadlecik. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 6 games; FC/gm: 22.8; Y/gm: 4.2; R: 2; pens: 1

INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED –
OUT: MF Branko Boskovic (L ACL tear); DF Marc Burch (R hamstring strain); DF Dejan Jakovic (L hamstring strain); DF Devon McTavish (concussion); FW Joseph Ngwenya (R MCL sprain); MF Santino Quaranta (concussion) …
HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DOUBTFUL: DF Eddie Robinson (L knee MCL sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: HOU: Lovel Palmer (through June 26)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: HOU: Lovel Palmer
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Fred … HOU: Brad Davis

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (11 meetings): United 3 wins, 10 goals … Dynamo 7 wins, 18 goals … Ties 1
AT RFK STADIUM (5 meetings): United 3 wins, 6 goals … Dynamo 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
•    D.C. United have never won at Robertson Stadium, the Dynamo winning six of the seven meetings all-time in Houston. The Dynamo have won four consecutive meetings with D.C. United.
•    The Dynamo have won on three of their last four visits to RFK Stadium to face United, including a 3-1 win in SuperLiga 2008.
•    The Dynamo also won MLS Cup 2007 at RFK Stadium, a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution.
•    Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. DC: P16 W8 L5 D3 … Ben Olsen v HOU: P2 W0 L2 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS):
4/29: HOU 4, DC 1 (Bruin 4, 41, 57; Weaver 62 – Burch 39)
•    The Dynamo took the lead after barely four minutes. Geoff Cameron dispossessed D.C. midfielder Clyde Simms and slotted a nice through ball for Will Bruin, and the rookie calmly finished near-post past a closing Bill Hamid.
•    United pulled even in the 39th minute from a free kick. Fred cleared out space in the Dynamo wall and Marc Burch sent a low, powerful blast from 25 yards out that beat 'keeper Tally Hall to the near corner.
•    The tie, though, lasted for just two minutes. After gaining possession in midfield, Cameron sent a through ball to Brad Davis out on the left flank and Davis curled in a cross from the end line. Bruin beat fellow rookie Perry Kitchen to blast a header home for his second.
•    The Dynamo used their set piece advantage in the 57th minute, when Bruin again rose above a helpless Kitchen to head home his final goal of the evening, this time off a Davis free kick from the left flank.
•    Weaver capped the scoring in the 62nd minute. A long throw in from Hunter Freeman found Weaver all alone behind the United back line. With acres of space in front of him, Weaver carried into the box and fired a shot into the roof of the net. Jed Zayner came into the back four for Chris Korb.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-1-3-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Lovel Palmer - Colin Clark (Je-Vaughn Watson 72), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis - Cam Weaver (Koke 85), Will Bruin (Brian Ching 81)
•    D.C. UNITED (4-1-3-2): Bill Hamid - Jed Zayner (Ethan White 61), Dejan Jakovic, Perry Kitchen, Marc Burch - Clyde Simms - Fred (Andy Najar 46), Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius - Josh Wolff (Santino Quaranta 84), Charlie Davies

D.C. UNITED
D.C. United headed back out on the road and came away with a point, in a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. United have 17 points from 14 games on the year, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    RSL took the lead in the 38th minute when United's Clyde Simms was adjusted to have handled the ball in the box. Fabián Espíndola stepped up to the spot and sent goalkeeper Bill Hamid the other way.
•    But United found the leveler five minutes from time when Chris Wingert looked to trip up Charlie Davies in the area and referee Terry Vaughn pointed to the spot. The U.S. striker converted the ensuing penalty.
•    United coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that fell 4-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes at RFK Stadium. Jed Zayner came in at fullback for Chris Korb, and Stephen King started in the midfield for Fred.
•    D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Jed Zayner, Ethan White, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard -  Andy Najar, Clyde Simms (Dax McCarty 46), Stephen King (Fred 78), Chris Pontius - Blake Brettschneider, Josh Wolff (Charlie Davies 62).

TEAM NEWS
•    Charlie Davies scored his seventh goal of the season, his fourth from the penalty spot. The four penalties are the most in MLS this season; his seven goals are third in MLS, behind Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan. United have scored six goals from the spot, by far the most in MLS this season (next is LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps FC with three each).
•    “When you’re at the penalty spot, no matter who you’re shooting against, you have to think you’re going to score,” Davies said, “otherwise, that’s when you get those doubts in your head that maybe there’s a chance that [the ‘keeper will] make the save.”
•    Five of Davies’ seven goals have come after he has come on as a substitute.
•    “Whenever you come off the bench, you’re supposed to add something to the game, especially me,” Davies said. “My job is to come in and change the game for this team. The game was pretty flat and they needed someone who could stretch the defense and change the game and bring that energy on.”
•    Jed Zayner made just his third start of the season, his first since April 29 vs. Houston. It was the first 90-minute outing for Zayner this year; the stint in Houston last 61 minutes, and he played 70 minutes in making a start in the season opener before first injuring a hamstring.
•    “I felt great, didn’t even notice my hamstring ‘til my calf started cramping. I’m so happy to have 90 minutes under my belt,” Zayner said.
•    The game against the Dynamo begins a stretch of three consecutive games against Eastern Conference opposition for United. D.C. last faced a team from their own division April 29 in the first meeting with Houston; they’ve played Western Conference clubs for seven consecutive games.
•    "You look at the standings right now, we play Houston, Philly, and New York - three teams above us, but not too far above us," Olsen said. "It's a very important stretch for this group right now."
•    United’s have finalized Fred’s transfer to Melbourne Heart in Australia. He will remain with the Black-and-Red until the international transfer window opens in mid-July.
•    “When we reacquired Fred earlier this year, we agreed in [principle] that we would let him go if he had an opportunity to sign abroad for a better contract,” United general manager Dave Kasper said. “Fred has been nothing but a professional throughout his time at D.C. United and we have granted his request. The move will also free up significant salary as we look to improve our team during the upcoming transfer window.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo weren’t able to put together back-to-back wins, falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Robertson Stadium. The Dynamo have 18 points from 16 games on the season, sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    Columbus took the lead in the 41st minute when Andres Mendoza finished a Bernardo Anor through ball in the penalty area by slotting it to the left of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.
•    Anor then put the game away for the Crew in the 77th minute. His shot from a Justin Meram was saved by Hall, but the Dynamo 'keeper was unable to retain the deflection and Anor followed his shot with an angled effort inside the back post.
•    Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against Chivas USA at Robertson Stadium. Andre Hainault returned from international duty for Eddie Robinson.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Hunter Freeman, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Colin Clark (Danny Cruz 62), Lovel Palmer (sent off 52), Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis - Will Bruin (Jason Garey 76), Cam Weaver (Brian Ching 62).

TEAM NEWS
•    Since the victory in the first meeting with D.C. United on April 29, the Dynamo have won just once in nine games, with five losses in that time.
•    “We all came out flat. We gave up a terrible goal. In the second half, we had a little bit of energy, and the red card killed us. We had a couple of chances, and it wasn’t for lack of trying,” Kinnear said. “We were just off tonight. Individually and collectively, we were off, and when you have everyone off, your chances of winning are slim.”
•    The Dynamo were also shut out for a fourth time in seven games. In that seven-game stretch, they’ve alternated being shut out, then scoring two goals.
•    “It was a poor performance from us all around. I think we showed more energy in the second half, and we played better when we were down a man,” forward Cam Weaver said. “We needed to bring that type of fighting energy from the beginning, and we didn’t. We deserved to lose.”
•    Brad Davis made his 200th league appearance, the 50th player in MLS history to reach the double-century mark in league games.
•    “There’s not much to say about it,” Davis said. “We’re at home, and we lost again. That’s unacceptable. That’s embarrassing.”
•    Lovel Palmer will miss the United match through suspension after being sent off early in the second half. Palmer has started every game this season for the Orange; he had played every minute until seeing red.
•    “I was a step or two late, and I got the guy and none of the ball,” Palmer said. “I think the ref made good calls, and I was just late. Giving up the [Mendoza] goal was bad … and then I got the red card, which made [the game] even harder.”
•    Brian Ching came on as a substitute for a second consecutive match, a 28-minute shift after playing 20 minutes the week before. He had missed six consecutive games and has not featured in the first XI since April 2.
•    The trip to United starts a two-game road swing that will see a visit to Colorado follow a week later for the Rapids’ annual Independence Day extravaganza, where Colorado has traditionally known success.
•    “We’ve got to take this week and look at what we did wrong and get past it because we’ve got another big game this weekend,” midfielder Danny Cruz said. “Monday, we get back at it and we have to correct things by next week because we don’t have to time to keep giving up points.”