Houston focused on improving leaky defense vs. Dallas
HOUSTON – As the Houston Dynamo look forward to the seventh edition of the Texas Derby against in-state rivals FC Dallas on Saturday (7:30 pm ET; ESPN2, live chat on MLSsoccer.com) the club are drawing motivation from last week’s performance.
For the second time this season, the Dynamo gave up three goals in a match and, while they've turned the page on the actual performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps, they are still looking to right some wrongs. First on the agenda is to shore up any leaks in the back.
WATCH: Houston, Dallas clash on ESPN2
“We have to make sure we’re defending well and being solid as a team,” said returning US international Geoff Cameron. “We have to make sure we’re compact and 11 working as one. I expect it’s going to be a tough game [Saturday] because they’ve got a lot of intensity. … We’ve got to do whatever we have to do to get a win."
The club will look to round back into form defensively against a Dallas side that have been woeful in the scoring department, notching just five goals in their last six matches. Five of those were losses, and they're on a nine-game winless skid overall.
Houston will get a boost from four returning internationals, with three – Cameron, Jermaine Taylor and Andre Hainault – that have been stalwarts in the back.
“Any time you have players going away on international duty, it’s a step up for them and they can bring that leadership back,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “I expect them, those four individuals, to come back and have good games because they’ve been playing a high level and they’ll come in and help the team out.”
Rivalry has teeth
While many will downplay the rivalry, there is certainly some credence to the tensions on the field between Houston and Dallas. The clubs have played 14 times before and waged some pretty intense battles.
“I think there’s a little extra in it,” defender Andre Hainault said. “Now when I see Dallas and thinking about it we see them enough and they’re a little too close. There’s some stuff and some players you remember, so it’s definitely a game you want to win and it makes it special because the fans really get up for it. It is one you look on the calendar and mark the date.”
Beating the heat
One thing that will not, or should not, be boiling over is the temperature. Last week, MLS and ESPN officials granted the Dynamo’s request to move the match from 4 pm CT to what is expected to be a decidedly cooler 6:30 pm CT kickoff.
“It’ll make for a better game, a little more open,” Hall offered. “When the sun’s out it zaps you a little quicker. Both teams are used to the heat and I think it’ll be a better game for the players and therefore for the fans. I think it’s a win-win that someone thought ahead and switched it up.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.