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Chivas USA look to break Houston curse

For Chivas USA, Houston’s Robertson Stadium has been something of a death trap. Since the Dynamo joined the league in 2006, the Red-and-White have posted an abysmal 0-6-2 lifetime record in Texas, scoring just one goal in 720 minutes of play while conceding 15.

This weekend, however, there’s blood in the water. U.S. National Team regulars Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark have left Houston for Europe. Brian Ching is out with a hamstring injury. Dynamo Designated Player Luis Ángel Landín earned a red card in the team’s 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy last weekend and is out on suspension.

If ever there were a time for Chivas USA to earn their first victory in Houston, this Saturday is it.

“We’re definitely all thinking that this could be [the year for a victory],” said Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein. “They’re missing some of their key players. But they lost last week, so they’re going to be ready to play because they don’t want to lose two games in a row at home.”

Chivas USA and Houston have a history of bad blood. The fierce rivalry began during the 2006 playoffs, when a late header by Brian Ching knocked the Goats out of the playoffs. Since then, games between the two have always been tense affairs.

“Every time we play Houston, we know what to expect,” said Bornstein. “You have to go in there expecting it to be a rough game. They’re very physical and, over the number of years that I’ve been in the league, they’ve been pretty good at home.”

Chivas USA have been in good form lately, with the Red-and-White getting their first win of the season last Saturday against New York. The team has looked solid in training this week and the players have begun to settle into new head coach Martín Vásquez’s system.

“I think if we’re able to play the style of soccer that we’ve been playing these last couple of weeks, then we should have a good chance at least of getting a tie,” said Bornstein. “We have to go in there with the mentality that we want to work really hard and try to get a win to keep this streak that we have going.”

Houston, meanwhile, suffered its first loss of the season last weekend, falling 2-0 to the visiting Galaxy. The result was the Dynamo’s first home defeat since since July 25 of last year.

“They could take [the loss] one of two ways,” said Bornstein. “Either they could learn from it and come out flying, or their confidence is down and they’re vulnerable. I’m hoping it’s the latter.”

Even if Bornstein’s wish comes true, Houston isn’t likely to concede defeat easily. The Goats will have to win a tough battle if they’re to leave Texas with any points.

“We have to stay focused and maintain our concentration,” said Vásquez. “We played a very good 45 minutes against them in Santa Barbara [during preseason], but then we relaxed and they punished us. But our guys are aware of that we have to maintain our concentration for 90 minutes.”