Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo | MLS Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs HOUSTON DYNAMO
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
July 12, 2014 (WEEK 18, MLS Game #161)
7 p.m. ET (SNet 360; CSN-Hou+)

A pair of clubs in the thick of the hunt for playoff jockeying meet when Toronto FC entertain the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC have played fewer games than any other club, yet are a point clear of the final playoff position despite a 2-1 home loss to D.C. United last weekend. The Dynamo put an end to a five-game shutout and losing run last weekend in a 2-2 home draw with New York, and are just two points out of the final playoff position.

REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. AR1 (bench): Philippe Briere; AR2 (opposite): Scott Kachmarik; 4th: Mathieu Bourdeau
MLS Career: 28 games; FC/gm: 23.9; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 4; pens: 12

SUSPENDED: TOR: Nick Hagglund (through July 13)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: HOU: Jermaine Taylor
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Jackson, Jermain Defoe, Doneil Henry, Steven Caldwell … HOU: Will Bruin
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Julio Cesar (BRA)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (15 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 14 goals … Dynamo 4 wins, 20 goals … Ties 8
AT TORONTO (7 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Dynamo 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 4
RETURN MATCHES: 7/19: Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m.CT; 10/8: Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS)
4/20: TOR 1, HOU 1 (Hall 58 – Creavalle 94+)
6/22: HOU 0, TOR 0
• The teams have played to three consecutive draws, including ties in both meetings a year ago, a 1-1 result at BMO Field on April 20, and a scoreless encounter June 22 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
• TFC has come away from Houston with points on each of their last three visits, though they have not won there since 2010.
• Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. HOU: P2 W0 L0 D2 … Dominic Kinnear vs. TOR: P15 W4 L3 D8

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC had their undefeated run put to an end after six matches, falling 2-1 to D.C. United on Saturday evening at BMO Field. TFC sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with 21 points from 14 matches.

LAST MATCH
• United took the lead in the 54th minute. Nick DeLeon collected the ball on the right touchline, raced forward into the penalty area and after cutting back to put a defender to ground, curled a right-footed shot past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
• But TFC were level six minutes later. Jermain Defoe saw his shot from inside the area parried by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, and Luke Moore was able to slide in and reach the ball first to push the rebound home for the equalizer.
• Yet United took the lead for good in the 69th minute. Substitute Lewis Neal swung in a corner from the right and Perry Kitchen carved out space to head home with ease for the eventual game-winner.
• TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Michael Bradley and Bradley Orr returned to the team, in place of Dominic Oduro and Jonathan Osorio.
• TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund (ejected 88), Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Bradley Orr (Dominic Oduro 46), Collen Warner, Michael Bradley (Jonathan Osorio 61), Jackson (Daniel Lovitz 77) - Luke Moore, Jermain Defoe.

TEAM NEWS

• Toronto FC had their six-game undefeated streak put to an end in the loss to D.C. United, two games away from the club record.
• “Very frustrating as we had a couple lapses in the game, a couple mistakes which has cost us the game. The overall play was pretty good even though it took us a little bit to get in the game,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen.
• Added defender Steven Caldwell: “We gave it away really as we lost two very sloppy goals. We are very disappointed as we thought we were right in the game obviously. First half we had a lot of possession; we had them on the break and created good opportunities. In the second half we gave away two very sloppy goals which has cost us the game.”
• Michael Bradley started an MLS game for the first time since May 3 in his return from the U.S. national team and the FIFA World Cup, playing 61 minutes in the center of midfield.
• Bradley Orr also made his first start since May 18, when he was forced off after just 18 minutes with a hamstring injury. Orr had come on as a substitute in each of the last two matches.
• After two consecutive starts, Dominic Oduro came off the substitutes’ bench at the halftime interval, replacing Orr in a wide midfield role.
• Daniel Lovitz also came on in an attacking role for the final 13 minutes after not featuring in the last two matches.
• “We have some very good forwards and it is very hard to get into the team now,” Nelsen said. “Lovitz was fantastic when he came on and showed great technique at the end when he almost scored.”

HOUSTON DYNAMO

The Houston Dynamo put an end to their losing and shutout streaks, coming back for a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls on July 4 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are in a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points from 18 games.

LAST MATCH

• The Dynamo put an end to their scoreless streak early. Ricardo Clark’s diagonal ball found Kofi Sarkodie at the end line, and he put a pinpoint cross in the box for Giles Barnes to head home from the top of the six just 40 seconds into the match, the quickest goal in club history.

• But the Red Bulls pulled even when Bradley Wright-Phillips scored his first goal of the night in the 13th minute, using his speed to latch on to a perfect 60-yard ball from Eric Alexander and hitting it low from the left side of the area to beat Tally Hall.
• Wright-Phillips scored his and New York's second in the 72nd minute when Ambroise Oyongo put a cross in the box where Wright-Phillips outjumped three Dynamo defenders to head home to give him 14 goals for the season.
• Yet the Dynamo had an answer in the 82nd minute. Red Bulls fullback Chris Duvall mistimed an attempted clearance in the box and was whistled for a handball by referee Ismail Elfath. Brad Davis stepped up to the spot and finished to his left to leave the teams level.
• Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made three changes to the team that fell 3-0 to the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Eric Brunner came into central defense for Jermaine Taylor, and Ricardo Clark and Brad Davis both came back into the team in place of Corey Ashe and Omar Cummings.
• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-1-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, A.J. Cochran, Eric Brunner, Warren Creavalle (Brian Ownby 79) - Andrew Driver (Alexander Lopez 79), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Boniek Garcia - Giles Barnes (Omar Cummings 74), Will Bruin.

TEAM NEWS

• The Dynamo put an end to their club-record goalless streak after 480 minutes in dramatic circumstances: Giles Barnes scored after just 40 seconds – the quickest goal in club history (previously: Craig Waibel, 0:47, 10/14/2006, HOU vs COL).
•  “It’s not just the way we scored early, but if you look at the play for 15 to 20 minutes after that was excellent,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “Our movement was dangerous. It was like all of a sudden we believed in ourselves again.”
• Added forward Will Bruin: “I think you saw in this game a lot of the fight that we’ve been lacking the last few games. To be able to score goals is nice. Those three points are still eluding us but it’s a step in the right direction.”
• The Dynamo did concede multiple goals for a sixth consecutive game, having allowe 15 goals over that span. The Dynamo have allowed 34 goals for the season, most in MLS.
• “As a team, we’ve got to look at what happened … We’ve got to address what let the goals in,” said midfielder Andrew Driver. “It’s about improving every week and every week cutting out the goals. We’ve still got to be critical to ourselves, because we’ve got to keep improving, got to start winning. We can’t sweep it under the carpet. It’s got to be out there, and we’ve got to correct it.”
• Added right back Kofi Sarkodie: “The game’s won in the box on both sides of the pitch, defending and attacking,” said. “If we finish in the final third and we defend in our final third, then we win matches. [Friday] I think we showed some characteristics of scoring in their final third, and we’ve got to continue to do a better job at box defending.”
• Brad Davis converted a late penalty in his first game back with the Dynamo since May 11, the goal putting an end to the club’s losing streak after five games, also a club record.
• “It wouldn’t be the first time that Brad’s brought this team out of a difficult run,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “But no, Brad can’t be the only guy to step on the field and say, ‘Hey, I got this.’ It is and always has been a team sport and we need 11 guys on the field working as one and playing to the best of their abilities.”
• Ricardo Clark made his first start since April 23, and contributed his second assist of the season. He had come on as a substitute the week before after missing nine league matches with concussion.
• “It goes without saying I think it showed. If you miss three of your best players you’re going to struggle,” said Driver. “I think [having them back] made a massive difference in the place, especially with the early goal. It really gave our fans and us a lift.”
• Eric Brunner made his first league start of the season, coming into central defense after two consecutive substitute appearances. David Horst was on the bench as he continues to return from a groin injury, and Corey Ashe (knee effusion) and Jermaine Taylor (hip contusion) were injury scratches.