Preview: Houston meet DC to close out season series

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs D.C. UNITED
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
July 15, 2012 (WEEK 19, MLS Game #181)
8 p.m. CT (Galavision; CSN-MA)

The Houston Dynamo and D.C. United meet for the third time this season when the clubs clash Sunday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are coming back-to-back scoreless draws, last a 0-0 result with Sporting Kansas City on the road last weekend. United return to action after a week off, last recording a 3-0 home win vs. the Montreal Impact. The teams have split their two meetings this season after opening BBVA Compass in May.

REFEREE: Jasen Anno. SAR (bench): Adam Garner; JAR (opposite): Jonathan Johnson; 4th: Ismail Elfath
MLS Career: 31 games; FC/gm: 22.8; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 19; pens: 8

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INJURY REPORT:

  • HOUSTON DYNAMO -- PROBABLE: MF Calen Carr (L hamstring strain); MF Je-Vaughn Watson (L adductor strain)
  • D.C. UNITED -- OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Calen Carr, Corey Ashe ... DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario, Andy Najar, Dejan Jakovic

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Dynamo 8 wins, 23 goals ... United 4 wins, 15 goals ... Ties 2

AT HOUSTON (7 meetings): Dynamo 6 wins, 13 goals ... United 0 wins, 4 goals ... Ties 1

FUTURE MATCH: 7/15: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. CT (Galavision)

2012 (MLS)
4/28: DC 3, HOU 2 (Santos 11, 70; De Rosario 54 -- Bruin 50, 59)
5/12: HOU 1, DC 0 (Davis 67)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Maicon Santos scored twice as United won 3-2, April 28 at RFK Stadium, while a Brad Davis was the winner as the Dynamo won 1-0 in the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12.
  • United have never won in Houston, in seven all-time visits. The Dynamo have a four-game home winning streak alive vs. D.C. United.
  • United's win in the first meeting this year was their first since a 1-0 triumph April 4, 2009 at RFK Stadium. The Dynamo had four of the previous five meetings, with one draw.
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. DC: P19 W9 L6 D4 ... Ben Olsen v HOU: P5 W1 L3 D1

LAST MATCH (MLS)

  • The opening of the newest MLS palace needed a touch of magic, and it came from Brad Davis. His left-footed blast from the center of the field, from all of 35 yards out, curled off the outstretched hand of D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid and into the net for the 67th-minute winner.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor - Calen Carr (Colin Clark 71), Adam Moffat, Je-Vaughn Watson (Luiz Camargo 66), Brad Davis - Will Bruin, Brian Ching (Macoumba Kandji  84).
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell, Daniel Woolard, Brandon McDonald, Chris Korb - Danny Cruz, Perry Kitchen (Stephen King 28), Andy Najar - Dwayne De Rosario - Maicon Santos (Josh Wolff 68), Chris Pontius (Hamdi Salihi 57).

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo played to a second consecutive scoreless draw, this time with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Dynamo are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 18 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: Offense sputters as KC draw with Dynamo

LAST MATCH

  • The closest either team came to scoring came in the 33rd minute, when Sporting's Jacob Peterson ripped a low shot off the left post.
  • Houston had a chance to steal the game late, but it was thwarted when defender Aurelien Collin and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen combined to stop Brian Ownby's shot in the 90th minute.
  • Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall had four saves, while Nielsen was credited with two, for their respective shutouts.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made no changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Luiz Camargo (Warren Creavalle 66), Adam Moffat, Brad Davis - Boniek Garcia, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 66), Macoumba Kandji (Brian Ownby 80).

TEAM NEWS

Dynamo Academy soft opening

  • The Dynamo have played to back-to-back scoreless draws, recording defensive shutouts for the third time this season.
  • "I thought the whole back four defended pretty well," head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "It's a work in progress. Defensively we're looking good, and on the attacking side there're some things we need to work on, which is fine."
  • For a third consecutive match, all since the inclusion of Honduran international Boniek Garcia, Kinnear maintained his scheme with a trio of central midfielders and Will Bruin at the spearhead of the attack.
  • "It's a system where guys clog the middle and make it tough for teams to play through," defender Bobby Boswell said. "When the guys in front of us are working their tails off it makes our job a lot easier. We're just picking up pieces and balls that get through, but tonight, and the last couple of games, it's been the guys in front of us doing all the hard work and we're there to clean it up if it gets through."
  • With Geoff Cameron sidelined for a second consecutive match with a hamstring strain, Jermaine Taylor reprised his role in central defense.
  • "He's been good all year," Kinnear said. "I think he's just up for the challenge. He hasn't played for Jamaica by mistake. He's strong, quick and a good passer of the ball. Last year, we didn't see the best of him because he picked up an injury, but this year we're seeing the best of Jermaine."
  • Said goalkeeper Tally Hall: "I think we have a fairly deep team where guys can come in and play different positions. We have some internationals that come in and step up for Geoff Cameron. It is a good system, where guys have been given the opportunity to come in and play well, so I think the team has done a fantastic job with covering for each other and working hard. The last two games have been shutouts."
  • Adam Moffat has filled a holding role in central midfield, with Brad Davis and Luiz Camargo tucked into central roles.
  • "We always have guys so that when one guy falls out another guy needs to step up and do the job. I think we have a good team, and unfortunately we have been without Geoff the last two games, but Adam stepped in the spot that he's been and I think he has done a good job," said Davis.
  • Mac Kandji and Boniek Garcia have filled the wide roles in Kinnear's 4-3-3 scheme.
  • "The trick is to play the ball from out wide and try to release the wings one-v-one. If you can put the ball outside and get the outside backs involved, me and [Garcia] and Will and hopefully a midfielder can put a lot of options in the box and put the ball in the back of the net," Kandji said. " ... I've never been a defensive guy and all the teams I've played on they've never asked me to do the defensive work. In this formation, I have to put in the defensive work. I think Dom [Kinnear, Dynamo head coach] appreciates that and my teammates appreciate that."
  • The United match kicks off a run of three consecutive games at BBVA Compass Stadium for the Dynamo, still unbeaten (4-0-3) in league play in their new home.
  • "We go back home now and we are kind of catching up in our games at home in the heat. It starts to play on you but Dom is good about letting us rest and recover and he mixes up the lineup," said Davis. "We are at home and we are undefeated there and we want to stay that way and hopefully we can pick up some wins and pick up some big points that we need to start getting now."

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United return to action after a full week off, their last match a 3-0 win against the Montreal Impact on June 30 at RFK Stadium. United are in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 33 points from 18 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: DC run rampant in Montreal

LAST MATCH

  • United opened the lead in first-half stoppage time. After picking the ball up inside the Impact half, Chris Pontius raced toward goal, turning a defender before thumping a left-footed shot inside the back post.
  • The lead was doubled five minutes into the second half. Branko Boskovic whipped a left-footed free kick from the right into the heart of the penalty area that Robbie Russell headed past a helpless Evan Bush in the Impact goal.
  • United completed the scoreline in second-half stoppage time, when Hamdi Salihi smashed home a rebound from a saved Nick DeLeon shot from close range.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made three changes to the team that suffered a 3-2 defeat by the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Andy Najar, Branko Boskovic and Maicon Santos came into the team, in place of Danny Cruz, Nick DeLeon and Hamdi Salihi.
  • D.C. UNITED  (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Robbie Russell, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius - Branko Boskovic (Lewis Neal 60) - Dwayne De Rosario (Nick DeLeon 75), Maicon Santos (Hamdi Salihi 79).

TEAM NEWS

United unveil new owners

  • Chris Pontius scored his fourth goal in the last three games, scoring four consecutive goals in a row for United.
  • "One of our goals this year is to take back RFK and make it a fortress to play against us this year, and I think we've done that. We always say if we win at home then we find the road to be a playoff team," Pontius said. "So, we are winning at home and we are doing all right on the road as well. We need to get a couple more results on the road and boost ourselves and create the gap between us and some of the top teams in the East."
  • It was his first start in a wide midfield role since the opening two matches of the season, after starting eight games as an out-and-out striker.
  • "Chris is unique, right? He has these attributes, and you can put him up top or underneath and also out wide. When he faces people he does a very good job. We've seen that before. He sometimes just opens up to hit it with his right foot, and he also has the ability to cut balls and deal with his left, so he's a pretty complete player in that sense," said Olsen. "I worried a little about putting him back out on the flank, just about taking him out of a place he was successful in, but I thought he did a good job."
  • Dwayne De Rosario took over the MLS league lead with his 10th assist, his second in as many games, setting up Pontius' opener.
  • "It's a product of where he has been playing on the field," Olsen said. "As of late, he has been around the goal and he seems to step up and do the job with whatever position we put him in." Said Pontius: "He obviously adapts. He has done it with a number of different teams, too. To be consistently that good, it shows a lot."
  • Branko Boskovic now has four assists on the season, all coming in the last five matches, returning to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in back-to-back games.
  • "He again changes us up, in particular against a team that's going to sit back. He's a guy with ideas, and he plays with the right pace. I thought he had a good night and he got an assist on the goal," Olsen said.
  • Boskovic came off at the hour mark, replaced by Lewis Neal -- who filled the central midfield spot after figuring out wide in his first appearances for United.
  • "We've been waiting to put him in [the midfield], we know he can play here and we know he understands that position," said Olsen. "It's just that we've had more of a need for him in the left midfield at times, and left back as well. It's just another position we know he can play now, and he's just a versatile, smart kid."
  • Robbie Russell also scored his first goal for United, in his 15th league appearance this season after four seasons with Real Salt Lake.
  • "It's always great to get your first goal for a new club -- it means a lot to me. It's just me building my own reputation and building my own love of D.C. United. This club means a lot to me. But I'll still take that zero over the goal," Russell said.