HOUSTON — The Houston Dynamo know to expect a little of the unexpected when they receive Toronto FC in their final Saturday night match of the regular season at Robertson Stadium.
Earlier this week, Toronto FC fired both their head coach Preki and general manager Mo Johnston. Nick Dasovic has replaced Preki in the hot seat, leaving Houston with little game film on a team hoping to forge a new identity.
Houston’s players also know that a change at the top can often provide a motivating spark, so they remain wary of their weekend visitors.
“Whenever teams get new coaches, all of a sudden they go out and have a new energy and new hope,” Brad Davis said. “I think they’re going to come down here and try to work hard.”
Toronto’s new regime started on Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake in CONCACAF Champions League play. Though TFC lost 4-1, they were all over Salt Lake early in the game.
“I thought they came out flying the first 20 minutes,” Dynamo ‘keeper Pat Onstad said. “The result didn’t go the way they wanted, but there is no reason to believe they won’t come in here with confidence.”
The Dynamo hope to capitalize on Toronto FC’s congested schedule and busy travel itinerary. When the Reds walk off the field on Saturday, they will have played their fifth game in two weeks, and will have another game on tap for Wednesday.
“It works in our favor, but only if you take advantage of it,” Kinnear said. “If we keep the ball, move the ball and have them chase the game.”
For Houston to slow down the Toronto attack, they will have to keep a tight watch on former Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, something Kinnear admits is no small task.
“We just have to pick up his runs,” Kinnear said. “He makes runs from deep, so we have to be aware and make sure someone is around him at all times.”
With midfielders Anthony Obodai recovering from surgery and Lovel Palmer serving a suspension, it seems likely that Geoff Cameron will be the person tasked with keeping an eye on De Rosario.
Regardless of the matchup, Kinnear has warned his team this week of the dangers presented by Saturday night’s opponents.
“It’s been an emotional week for them and they are still within the reach of the playoffs,” Kinnear said. “If we’re not ready for this team, we’re asking for trouble because they have players that can beat you.”
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.