HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo are at the halfway point of a stretch of four games in 11 days. Next up is a fresh Portland Timbers squad in a Tuesday night clash at their new home, BBVA Compass Stadium (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Following a 1-0 victory against D.C. United in their home opener, a game that came on the heels of a midweek loss in New York, Houston will have to turn to their depth to combat Portland’s fresh legs as they continue to navigate what will be a congested May schedule.
HIGHLIGHTS: HOU 1, DC 0
“We are going to change things up,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear after opening BBVA Compass Stadium with a victory. “It would be a crime to ask these guys to play 90 minutes again. Unfortunately, you don’t get the chance to rest with a schedule like this.”
Kinnear employed a similar strategy last Wednesday against the New York Red Bulls and his squad came close to pulling off a result before ultimately finding themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 decision. Houston was led in large part that night by four fresh starters who had strong matches, including the return of All-Star left midfielder Brad Davis.
Tuesday’s match against Portland will be another chance for the Dynamo to show that they have the depth and ability on their bench to keep things moving in the right direction despite a packed slate.
“I think guys on this team are pretty good knowing it’s a long season and there are lots of minutes to go around,” said defender Andre Hainault. “They know to be ready when you’re called upon. Guys, whether they’re starting or not dressing, have to stay focused and stay positive. As a player, you want to be ready.”
While the Dynamo will be ready up and down the roster, the club could get some assistance from the weather.
D.C. made a point after Saturday's game to comment on just how tough it can be for a road team to deal with the heat at BBVA Compass. The East Coast club wilted down the stretch as the Dynamo put their foot on the gas following Davis’ inaugural goal at their new digs.
MatchDay 360: BBVA Compass Stadium
With the temperature expected to be around 83 – which will be hotter than any game Portland have played this season – Houston are looking to combine their elements advantage with some fresh legs to get the job done.
“Portland’s coming in here as the fresher team, but I don’t think they know what the heat’s all about,” captain Brian Ching told MLSsoccer.com after Monday’s shortened training. “It’s something we’re used to and something we’ll have some fresh legs for. We tend to get a little stronger at the end of the games. You saw it against D.C., and I think you’ll see it throughout the season.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.