Preview: Dynamo host TFC, try to stay unbeaten at home

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs TORONTO FC
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
August 25, 2012 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #239)
8: 30 pm ET / 7:30 pm CT (FS-Hou/MultiM; TSN2)

The Houston Dynamo will look to keep their unbeaten home record alive when they play host to Toronto FC on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo made it late, but came back for a 2-2 draw with Columbus at home last weekend, a result that left them tied for third in the Eastern Conference. Toronto FC are on a five-game winless run and sit in 10th place in the East, after starting their road trip with a 2-1 loss in Columbus at midweek.

REFEREE: Paul Ward. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Leszek Stalmach
MLS Career: 38 games; FC/gm: 23.2; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 11; pens: 7

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: DF Alex Dixon (heat illness); QUESTIONABLE: MF Ricardo Clark (L ankle sprain)
  • TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain); DF Matt Stinson (R quadriceps strain); DF Doneil Henry (L knee tendinosis); MF Reggie Lambe (R knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: DF Jeremy Hall (L ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Torsten Frings, Ashtone Morgan
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Calen Carr, Corey Ashe, Macoumba Kandji … TOR: Richard Eckersley, Ryan Johnson, Reggie Lambe, Terry Dunfield, Doneil Henry, Eric Hassli

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Dynamo 4 wins, 18 goals … Toronto FC 3 wins, 12 goals … Ties 5
AT HOUSTON (6 meetings): Dynamo 3 wins, 12 goals … Toronto FC 1 wins, 6 goals … Ties 2

2012 (MLS):
6/20: HOU 3, TOR 3 (Boswell 20; Bruin 73, 90 – Hall 13; Koevermans 22, 45)
7/28: TOR 0, HOU 2 (Carr 45; Ching 86)
• The teams are meeting for the third time this season. They played to a wild 3-3 draw June 20 in Houston, as a late pair of goals from Will Bruin canceled out a first-half brace from TFC’s Danny Koevermans, then goals from Calen Carr and Brian Ching led the Dynamo to a 2-0 win, July 28 at BMO Field.
• That was the Dynamo's first win ever at BMO Field. TFC had taken two victories and three draws in the first five meetings all-time in Ontario.
• Houston’s 2-0 victory in the final meeting between at Robertson Stadium, last July 9, was the Dynamo’s first vs. TFC since 2009. Toronto FC had won two in a row vs. Houston after two draws.
• Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear vs. TOR: P12 W4 L3 D5 … Paul Mariner vs. HOU: P2 W0 L1 D1

LAST MEETING (MLS):
• The Dynamo struck just seconds before halftime. Brad Davis looped in a lovely corner to the near post and Bobby Boswell flicked it on to the back post, where an unmarked Calen Carr headed the ball into the bottom right corner.
• The visitors doubled the margin with a late goal. Another Davis run down the left side cleared space in the middle, and he angled his cross back to an oncoming Brian Ching, who made no mistake and slotted home from the heart of the box.
• TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Doneil Henry (Jeremy Hall 83), Logan Emory (Aaron Maund 83), Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe, Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva - Quincy Amarikwa (Andrew Wiedeman 62), Ryan Johnson.
• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Warren Creavalle, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe (Kofi Sarkodie 78) - Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis - Calen Carr (Je-Vaughn Watson 83), Brian Ching, Macoumba Kandji (Luiz Camargo 74).

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo returned home and kept their BBVA Compass Stadium unbeaten streak alive, coming back for a 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew on Sunday evening. The Dynamo are in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: HOU 2, CLB 2

• The Dynamo took the lead in the 19th minute. Boniek Garcia found space down the right side and squared the ball into a streaking Brad Davis, who capped off a strong run with a scintillating blast from the top of the area.
• But the Crew pulled even in the 33rd minute. Dilly Duka found plenty of space down the right after playing a give-and-go with Eddie Gaven, and then cut the ball back to find the onrushing Cole Grossman, who curled it home first time for his first MLS goal.
• The visitors then moved ahead in the 61st minute. Jairo Arrieta and Federico Higuaín combined in midfield for a well-crafted layoff and ball over the top to send Gaven through on goal, where he made no mistake with the finish.
• Yet the Dynamo hit for the level eight minutes from the end. After Danny O’Rourke cleared a cross out of the box, Adam Moffat set up on his left foot and blasted a shot at Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, who failed to hold it properly and watched it trickle over his own line.
• Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made no changes to his team for a second consecutive match, keeping the group that suffered a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe (Cam Weaver 76) - Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat, Brad Davis - Calen Carr, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 76), Macoumba Kandji (Ricardo Clark 63).

TEAM NEWS
• The Dynamo extended their home unbeaten streak to 20 games in the draw. They last lost at home June 18, 2011 (the Crew’s last visit to Houston).
• The 20-game streak is third-longest in MLS league play, now two games behind the Crew’s streak set June 28, 2008-Aug. 26, 2009. The MLS record is 29 home games unbeaten, held by Real Salt Lake.
• “We talked about how shape and attack would be important and we got caught in there a little bit on the second goal. But then again it was a great fight by us at the end,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “We were due a goal with all the chances we had. It wasn’t the prettiest goal but it counted and it saved us a point and kept us unbeaten at home.”
• After telling Crew goalkeeper (and former teammate) Andy Gruenebaum he would score on him, Dynamo midfielder Adam Moffat did just that, hitting for the tying goal. It was Moffat’s second goal of the season, his first since June 16.
• “The ball was scrambling around a little bit and, sitting in that deeper spot, I am always aware of the ball coming out. So as it came out, it goes through my mind to hit it first time and I needed to slow myself down,” Moffat said. “I got a decent connection on it. Fortunately it did not hit any bodies. I didn’t see it completely go over the line but it was just enough. It was a good feeling because we were trying to get back in the game.”
• Ricardo Clark made his first Dynamo appearance since 2009, coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute.
• “You know from Rico in the past that every time he steps on the field he’s going to give you 100 percent,” midfielder Brad Davis said. “He’s improved and had some good experiences overseas. He’s gotten better each year and I see him getting better and better as he regains his fitness for us.”
• Cam Weaver made his first appearance since May 7, his last start, coming on for the final 14 minutes. Brian Ching also came on for his ninth substitute outing over the last 10 league matches.
• On Wednesday, the Dynamo began their CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a quality result, defeating CD F.A.S. of El Salvador 3-1 at Estadio Cuscátlan in San Salvador. Strikers Brian Ching and Cam Weaver and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson all hammered home unmarked headers to give the Dynamo an important road victory.
• Here’s the Dynamo team: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, Bobby Boswell, Nate Sturgis, Warren Creavalle (Brian Ownby 70); Je-Vaughn Watson, Adam Moffat, Luiz Camargo (Brad Davis 81), Colin Clark (Josue Soto 86); Brian Ching, Cam Weaver
• “This is traditionally what Houston’s been known to play and it’s pretty easy to get back into with Brian and Cam, and all our forwards, to get back into it and do well,” Ricardo Clark said. “When you can get the ball out wide and get service in the box, with the forwards we have on our roster, it’s pretty easy to rack up assists.” Said Kinnear: “It’s important because you can make all the runs you want but if you don’t have good service it doesn’t happen. We took advantage of our chances and our chances came from wide tonight.”

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC had their run extended to five games without a win, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Columbus Crew in a rescheduled match Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. TFC are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 20 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: CLB 2, TOR 1

• The Crew jumped into the lead after just four minutes. Making his first MLS start, Federico Higuaín surged down the left flank and patiently waited for numbers to arrive before finding Eddie Gaven, whose blast from outside the area took a deflection and nestled in the back of the net.
• Higuaín and the Crew doubled the margin in the 58th minute. Capping a neat string of passes inside the area, the Crew Designated Player made it 2-0 with a calmly-taken finish from near the penalty spot.
• But Toronto pulled to within a goal in the 71st minute. Recently-acquired Eric Hassli picked up a header from Quincy Amarikwa and sliced the Crew defense with a weighted ball that Luis Silva ran onto before stroking the finish past Columbus 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum.
• TFC head coach Paul Mariner made two changes to the team that fell to a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at BMO Field. Freddy Hall came in between the posts in favor of Milos Kocic, and Dicoy Williams started in the back four in place of Doneil Henry.
• TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Freddy Hall - Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, Dicoy Williams (Aaron Maund 85), Ashtone Morgan - Andrew Wiedeman (Jeremy Hall 61), Terry Dunfield, Torsten Frings (Quincy Amarikwa 71), Ryan Johnson - Eric Hassli, Luis Silva.

TEAM NEWS
• Toronto FC saw their winless streak extended to five games, losing consecutive games for the second time since Paul Mariner took over as head coach.
• “It was the exact opposite [of what] I asked for in the dressing room. If you don’t close people down, you’re going to get punished,” said Mariner. “It’s not just the fact that we didn’t close Eddie [Gaven] down. It’s what happened further up the field. It’s the knock-on effect. It’s just whatever you call it. It’s not being ready to play and we’ve done everything to get the lads ready to play.”
• Luis Silva scored his second goal in three games, the last two goals TFC have scored. All four of Silva’s goals have come over the last eight games, since July 11.
• Eric Hassli contributed his second assist since joining the club. Hassli has made four starts for TFC; he has a goal and two assists and has been involved in every goal the Reds have scored in that time.
• Quincy Amarikwa recorded his first assist with Toronto FC, coming in his fourth appearance since joining the club.
• Freddy Hall made his first MLS league start for TFC, the first league game where Milos Kocic has not started. Kocic had played every match in goal for the club in all competitions since Stefan Frei started the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg vs. the LA Galaxy in March, then suffered a broken leg.
• “Milos has been absolutely fantastic for us this season,” said Mariner. “He was thrown into the fire in line with losing Stefan Frei, our No. 1. He’s come in, he’s done everything we wanted him to do, but for various reasons, professional reasons, and other reasons, he just needed to rest mentally for maybe a game or so. He’s been spectacular for us and Freddy is a guy I’ve known for a long, long time and I knew he’d do fine.”
• With Doneil Henry, Ty Harden and Matt Stinson injured and unavailable, Dicoy Williams made his first start of the season, and just his second league appearance overall. He came on very late on June 20 at Houston, his only other MLS outing.
• Ashtone Morgan returned to the left side of the back four, with Richard Eckersley shifting out to the right. Morgan had moved to right back with the injury to Henry in the first half of the Kansas City match.
• “Not really, maybe in training a little bit,” Morgan said. “Never for more than a half [like Saturday]. It’s kind of the same but you have to use your right foot a little bit more. It’s all right, as Paul said it’s not just to stand on, I can use it. Sometimes during training Paul gives us 15 minutes to ourselves and I always do right-foot dribbling and practice with my right foot."