Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union | MLS Match Preview

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
July 6, 2013 (WEEK 19, MLS Game #170)
8 p.m. CT (CSN-Hou; TCN-Phi)

The Houston Dynamo and Philadelphia Union meet in a key clash in the Eastern Conference on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are looking to put a stop to a seven-game winless run, dropping a 2-0 decision to the New York Red Bulls, as they aim to maintain their spot in the playoff placings. Union are four points ahead of the Dynamo in the East, following their last-gasp 2-2 draw at Real Salt Lake at midweek.

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REFEREE: Matthew Foerster. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Jonathan Johnson; 4th: Armando Villarreal
MLS Career: 14 games; FC/gm: 24.0; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 1; pens: 5

DISABLED LIST: PHI: Greg Jordan
SUSPENDED: HOU: Kofi Sarkodie (through July 6)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Brian Carroll, Conor Casey
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Andrew Driver, Corey Ashe … PHI: Raymon Gaddis, Michael Farfan
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: HOU: Will Bruin, Corey Ashe (USA) … PHI: Keon Daniel (TRI), Jack McInerney (USA)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): Dynamo 2 wins, 10 goals … Union 3 wins, 11 goals … Ties 2
AT HOUSTON (4 meetings): Dynamo 2 wins, 7 goals … Union 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCH: 9/14: Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS)
6/30: HOU 2, PHI 1 (Davis 19; Ching 83 – Daniel 46)
9/23: PHI 3, HOU 1 (Adu 28, 50; Martinez 70 – Garcia 44)
10/20: HOU 3, PHI 1 (Kandji 5; Garcia 71; Davis 75 – McInerney 19)

  • The teams met three times a season ago, with the home team winning on each occasion, including two Dynamo victories at BBVA Compass Stadium. They were the first two Dynamo home victories in the regular season series; Union came away with wins in visits to Robertson Stadium in both 2010 and 2011.
  • The Dynamo have never won in regular-season play at PPL Park, the teams reaching draws in their first two meetings in Chester before Union’s 3-1 win last Sept. 23.
  • The clubs met in the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Dynamo advancing 3-1 on aggregate after a 2-1 win at PPL Park, then a 1-0 home win.
  • Coaches record: Dominic Kinnear v PHI: P7 W2 L3 D2 … John Hackworth vs. HOU: P3 W1 L2 D0

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo saw their winless run stretched to seven games, dropping a 2-0 decision to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Dynamo are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 16 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls finally broke through at the hour mark. Eric Alexander hit a great ball in from the right flank that Fabian Espíndola raced onto with a well-timed run, before tucking his shot underneath Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
  • The home side put the game away with a second two minutes from time. Thierry Henry collected a pass in the middle of the field and laid it off for Jonny Steele on the left side of the penalty area, and he unleashed a venomous shot that soared into the far top corner.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Toronto FC at BBVA Compass Stadium. Adam Moffat came into the team in place of Brad Davis.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Warren Creavalle (Omar Cummings 65), Adam Moffat (Alex Dixon 78), Ricardo Clark, Andrew Driver - Giles Barnes (Brian Ching 78), Will Bruin.

TEAM NEWS

  • The defeat extended the Houston winless streak to seven games in league play, matching the second-longest in club history. The Dynamo have gone 0-4-3 since a 4-0 win at D.C. United on May 8.
  • “We’re just not putting the ball in the back of the net, so we’re working on that and hopefully that happens for us on Saturday,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “We had a nice chat after the [New York] game. We had our chances still … the only thing you can do is prepare for the next week and hopefully the mood in the locker room the following week is much better.
  • The Dynamo have now gone a club-record 329 minutes without scoring a goal, following the loss at the New York Red Bulls. Including their U.S. Open Cup loss at FC Dallas, it’s 419 minutes without a goal in all competitions.
  • “I think we’re trying to do the same things over and over again,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “In New York I felt like we saw the same attack from us. I think that’s the relationships where we have to say ‘OK, this is what we’re doing and how can we be different?’ Just to give the defense a different look because you can’t just do the same things over and over when the other team’s prepared for it. As a team we look at it and say, ‘How can we be more dangerous?’ It’s all of us. It’s the team coming together and being more cutthroat in the way we try and win games.”
  • The Dynamo were missing midfielder Brad Davis to a left hamstring strain, after he returned to the Dynamo lineup for the first time in nearly a month in the Toronto FC match.
  • Boniek García was also out of the team for a fourth consecutive match, after he suffered a hamstring strain while on international duty with Honduras.
  • “I don’t like to talk about players that aren’t here because it shows disrespect to the ones that are here," Kinnear said, "so even though we’d like Brad to be here, it’s unfair to talk about him."
  • The Dynamo will be without striker Will Bruin, along with fullback Corey Ashe, both with the U.S. national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Bruin has not scored since netting twice in the May 8 win vs. D.C. United.
  • “I don’t really know how to sum it up, it’s just a gut check, character check. Luckily it’s the end of June and not October, but we know how much we’ve been struggling,” Bruin said. “I think we’re too content just holding the ball and keeping possession. When you’re in the final third, you’ve got to be aggressive and have that killer instinct to score, and I think we’re lacking that right now. But once it comes back, I think it’s going to come along.”

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union saw points snatched again away at the death, Real Salt Lake scoring the equalizer deep into stoppage time to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw on Wednesday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Union sit in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 18 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Union took the lead in the 16th minute. After he was sent all alone down the right flank by Sheanon Williams, Conor Casey got to the byeline and sent in a centering pass that Sébastien Le Toux easily tapped in from almost on the goal line.
  • RSL then went a man down in the 59th minute when Lovel Palmer was shown a straight red from referee Ismail Elfath after a slide tackle on Michael Farfan.
  • But 10-man Real leveled first in the 75th minute through substitute Luis Gil, who found himself unmarked at the top of the box on a Javier Morales corner kick to head home. Yet less than a minute later, substitute Antoine Hoppenot beat RSL defender Nat Borchers to the ball and fed Casey at the top of the box, who buried the ball into an open net.
  • Union should have put the game away in stoppage time when Le Toux found himself one on one with Josh Saunders, but the RSL 'keeper made the save.
  • It came back to haunt the visitors. Union fullback Raymon Gaddis handled the ball in the box during a scramble, and Elfath pointed to the spot. Morales stepped up to take the penalty seven minutes into stoppage time and drilled it off the right post and into the left-side netting to rescue the point for Real.
  • Union team manager John Hackworth made one change to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas at PPL Park. Leo Fernandes came into the side with Jack McInerney away on international duty.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-4-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis - Brian Carroll - Sebastien Le Toux, Michael Farfan (Antoine Hoppenot 61), Leo Fernandes (Aaron Wheeler 86), Danny Cruz (Matt Kassel 65) - Conor Casey.

TEAM NEWS

  • For a second consecutive match, Union saw the equalizing goal scored seven minutes deep into second-half stoppage time, both of which matched the fourth-latest goals scored in MLS history.
  • “I’m losing a lot of hair,” Union team manager John Hackworth said. “I’m aging like crazy. We’ve just got to improve. This is the second time in a row we’ve lost points at the very, very end of the game. There have been a couple of silly mistakes on our part. We just need to learn.”
  • With Jack McInerney on CONCACAF Gold Cup duty, Hackworth opted to run out Leo Fernandes in a midfield role with Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Cruz maintaining their wide midfield roles.
  • “It gives us some good options, especially when we’re going on the road and you need to have a little bit of an element of surprise,” Hackworth said. “Sebastien has clearly done very well for us out wide. And that’s certainly an option to stay like that. Or we can play him up high, which is a position he has done very well for this club in the past.”
  • While Le Toux did not add to his MLS-leading assist total, he scored a third goal of the season, and nearly had a second that would have put away the game late.
  • Making a fourth consecutive start, this time as the spearhead striker, Conor Casey scored a fourth goal over that time, while also adding his third assist of the season.
  • “We are really, really pleased with how he is playing right now,” said Hackworth. “He’s huge for us. He allows us to play the ball forward and he holds it up. He’s creative. The first goal, he does a fantastic job of keeping his composure, dribbling a guy in the box and slotting a ball to [Le Toux]. He’s class.”
  • There is an injury concern with the Houston match coming in a tight turnaround, as Danny Cruz had to come off just after the hour mark.
  • “If you told me coming in to this game I would’ve had a point coming out of here, I’ll take it. The way it went down, no,” said Hackworth. “We’re disappointed. The locker room is gutted. We feel like we’re snake bitten. Two times in five days is hard to swallow. Everything in perspective, we’ve got to learn and keep going.”
  • “I picked up a knock against Dallas this last week and today I was just trying to play through it. While I was sprinting I could feel it pull and tighten,” Cruz said. “We got that goal early and I wanted to be smart and make sure that someone who could make the runs was getting the ball. It doesn’t hurt when I’m walking just when I’m sprinting so hopefully I can make a quick turnaround for this upcoming game.”
  • Sheanon Williams continued his assist run, gaining an assist for a third consecutive game, with four helpers in that run. Williams is now tied for the MLS lead with seven assists with teammate Le Toux.