Sunday’s second leg of the Eastern Conference Championship vs. D.C. United will have a bit of a déjà-vu feel for the Houston Dynamo (4 pm ET, NBC Sports Network).
Nearly a week-and-a-half removed from a Conference Semifinal victory over Sporting Kansas City, the Dynamo are once again heading into a hostile environment looking to make a two-goal lead stand up in a decisive return match. Houston expect a very similar game to unfold in D.C.
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“I think the Kansas City game prepared us well and now we know what to expect,” Will Bruin said during a league-wide conference call on Thursday. “They’re trying to get guys back from injury as soon as possible, so we expect everybody to come out and play and they’re going to be throwing numbers at us.”
Houston survived the onslaught from Sporting KC and advanced at Livestrong Sporting Park last Wednesday.
SKC did everything in their power to knock out the resilient Dynamo, except finish. They tallied 20 shots in total, 31 crosses in the run of play and held the ball for an impressive 71 percent of the match. Houston, however, were left standing thanks to a heroic show of team defense.
But D.C. do not rely as much on crosses to generate scoring chances – something that played into Houston’s hands vs. Sporting with tall center backs Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault ruling the air. United present some different challenges in regards to their personnel and style of play, especially if D.C. attackers Dwayne De Rosario and Chris Pontius see the field.
“Kansas City, they were obviously bombarding us but they like to get it wide and swing crosses in a lot,” Bruin said. “I think with D.C., we’re going to see that as well, but we’re also going to see more direct [play], more trying to get in behind. ... It’s going to be somewhat similar but there’s also going to be some difference there with some of the playmakers D.C. has.
"We know how much D.C. is going to attack. This is the last attempt, the last game for them to throw numbers forward. We’ve got to be ready for it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.