HOUSTON – As the Houston Dynamo get set to face Sporting Kansas City for the Eastern Conference title on Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET, FOX Soccer and FOX Deportes, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), many are quick to bring up the Dynamo’s last visit to Livestrong Sporting Park back on September 10: a 3-0 loss for the Orange.
But for Houston forward Carlo Costly, who was sent off in the second half of the match when the score was still 1-0, the match offered more encouragement than anything else.
“The first half, we had various scoring options and personally I had chances to score, but unfortunately they hit the post,” he told MLSsoccer.com after Houston’s final practice on Saturday. “We know that we could do a lot of damage. … We have a team that can beat Kansas City. They’re at home with all their fans, but it’s not impossible. We have the conviction that we can get a positive result.”
Costly has very specific ideas as to how to gain a berth to MLS Cup 2011 on Sunday: close down his Honduran national team teammate and compatriot Roger Espinoza in central midfield.
“He’s the motor of the team,” Costly said. “He’s a great player for me and all Hondurans. I believe he’s the guy who carries the team by going up and down on the field. If you stop him, you stop the whole team. I hope the manager addresses this aspect and stops him to make him disappear off the field.”
Espinoza used to be the left back in Kansas City before the Honduran national team manager employed him in midfield during the CONCACAF Gold Cup with great success. When he returned to his MLS club, Peter Vermes played him in the same position, and KC have been in the ascendant ever since.
So while many choose to focus on the man who will line up alongside Espinoza — playmaker Graham Zusi — Costly feels that extreme measures should be taken to stop Espinoza.
“He’s an impressive player for me,” Costly said. “He moved up the ranks until getting called up to the national team. … We have to put a marking man on him to stop all the runs he makes.”
As for Costly, he’s been relegated to a sub’s role with the emergence of the speedy Calen Carr, who has proven to be the perfect partner for Brian Ching — a fixture at striker from day one in Houston.
Costly’s loan deal expires on Dec. 31 and he will return to Mexican side Atlas unless a deal can be worked out again with Houston. But in the meantime, he is focused on wrapping up his season with the Dynamo and he is already thinking ahead to a one final game after Sunday.
“I’m focused on the next two games and if god wills, either there is an opportunity to stay here or I go back to Atlas,” Costly said. “But we’re focused on working for this game and God will know my future.”