Preview: Can Dynamo feast on home cooking vs. Union?
HOUSTON DYNAMO vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
October 20, 2012 (WEEK 32, MLS Game #309)
6:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN; TSN2)
The Houston Dynamo will be aiming to extend their long unbeaten run while also securing a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs when they play host to Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are undefeated at home over the entire season, their streak now at 24 games, and are still hanging on to fifth place in the Eastern Conference following their 1-1 draw with Montréal last time out. Union are eliminated from playoff consideration but have won two games in a row, coming off a 1-0 win against New England before the international break.
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REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Ismail Elfath
MLS Career: 102 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 26; pens: 34
HOUSTON DYNAMO – QUESTIONABLE: MF Brad Davis (L calf strain) …
PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee menisectomy recovery); DOUBTFUL: DF Sheanon Williams (L ankle peroneal/Achilles strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Gabriel Farfan (R ankle contusion); MF Danny Cruz (L big toe sesamoid stress fracture); FW Zach Pfeffer (L knee contusion); PROBABLE: MF Freddy Adu (L quad strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: HOU: Bobby Boswell … PHI: Gabriel Farfan, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Lahoud
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Corey Ashe, Calen Carr, Brad Davis, Macoumba Kandji … PHI: Brian Carroll, Jack McInerney, Carlos Valdes, Michael Farfan
ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Dynamo 1 win, 7 goals … Union 3 wins, 10 goals … Ties 2
AT HOUSTON (3 meetings): Dynamo 1 win, 4 goals … Union 2 wins, 5 goals … Ties 0
2012 (MLS) - 6/30: HOU 2, PHI 1 (Davis 20; Ching 83 – Daniel 46); 9/23: PHI 3, HOU 1 (Adu 28, 50; Martinez 70 – Garcia 44)
• The teams are playing for the third time this season, having split the first two. A late Brian Ching penalty kick was the decider in a 2-1 Dynamo victory June 30 at BBVA Compass Stadium, then Freddy Adu scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 Union win Sept. 23 at PPL Park.
• The win in the first meeting was the Dynamo’s first in league play vs. Philadelphia; Union had won two of the first four, with two draws. But Houston did win both legs of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal Series, a 2-1 win in Chester followed by a 1-0 victory in Houston, on their way to MLS Cup 2011.
• Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. HOU: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Dominic Kinnear v PHI: P6 W1 L3 D2
• Union took the lead in the 28th minute. Right back Ray Gaddis made a marauding run up the field and put in a cross that eventually found its way to Freddy Adu beyond the far post. Adu then cut the ball in front of goal and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall to the near post.
• The Dynamo pulled level just a minute before halftime when Boniek García hit a beautiful strike off the post and in, following a great feed from Will Bruin, who sucked both defenders to him in the middle of the box.
• Adu netted his second goal of game when he banged home a 50th-minute penalty kick after André Hainault dragged down Philly’s Sheanon Williams in the box. Adu then left the game while clutching his left leg, replaced by Keon Daniel.
• Josué Martinez capped the victory in the 71th minute when he got his foot on a blast from center back Amobi Okugo and took another touch to beat Hall right in front of the net.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams - Danny Cruz (Chris Albright 81), Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan - Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel 57 / Antoine Hoppenot 66), Josue Martinez.
• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Andre Hainault (Cam Weaver 81), Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor - Luiz Camargo (Giles Barnes 63), Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Boniek Garcia, Will Bruin, Macoumba Kandji (Calen Carr 46).
The Houston Dynamo extended their long undefeated streak at home for one more match, reaching a 1-1 draw with the Montréal Impact on Oct. 6 at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 50 points from 32 games.
• The Dynamo opened the scoring in the 44th minute when winger Calen Carr shook Impact defender Alessandro Nesta in the box and set up Will Bruin up for a poke inside the near post.
WATCH: Impact, Dynamo draw in Houston
• But the Impact pulled even in the 66th minute. Marco Di Vaio played a sublime turn and through ball to Sanna Nyassi, who was persistent cleaning up his own rebound after an initial save by Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
• Houston’s Brian Ching appeared to pull out the full three points with a chip of Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 93rd minute, but after a conference between referee Chris Penso and assistant referee Jason Cullum, Ching was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.
• Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made one change to the team that recorded a late 2-0 win against the New England Revolution at BBVA Compass Stadium. Macoumba Kandji came into the team in place of Brad Davis.
• HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Boniek Garcia, Adam Moffat (Warren Creavalle 89), Ricardo Clark, Calen Carr - Will Bruin (Cam Weaver 72), Macoumba Kandji (Brian Ching 72).
• It’s the final home game of the regular season for the Dynamo, who are bidding to become the fourth team in MLS history to go undefeated at home over an entire season (San Jose, 2005; Real Salt Lake, 2010; LA Galaxy, 2011).
• The Dynamo are also riding a 24-game home unbeaten streak in league play, now the second-longest in MLS history. Real Salt Lake’s 29-game streak from 2009-11 is the league record.
• “Definitely happy when it’s all said and done that we’re in the position that if the season ended today we’d be in,” said goalkeeper Tally Hall. “We look back and we still see some critical things that we need to do better. … I know it’s late in the season, but those things can still be done and still be accomplished. We’re in a spot where we can get in if we do our job ,so at the end of the day, it’s not so bad.”
• The Dynamo can also lay claim to a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory vs. Philadelphia and a Columbus Crew loss earlier Saturday at D.C. United.
• “We live to fight another day and we still have some business to attend to,” said defender Bobby Boswell. “Our destiny’s still in our hands, but we’ve made it a little tougher on ourselves.”
• Midfielder Brad Davis missed the Montréal match with a calf injury suffered during training, but has returned to full training. He is listed as questionable for the Philadelphia match on the club’s injury report.
• “This is the first time I’ve been really able to get back on the field and really test it,” Davis said. “You want to slowly progress and that’s what I was doing, going through some slow agility stuff and making sure that was okay and then ramping it up and I ended up getting to a 100 percent. Now I know I’m comfortable with the fact that I can get back into training and feel confident that the calf’s good.”
• Said Boswell: “He’s a great player and obviously he’s been a part of everything in terms of our success. We need everyone who's available and healthy to play, so getting him back to healthy is the goal. ... He’s a very important piece of this team.”
• Will Bruin scored his 12th goal of the season, his first since Aug. 25. “Obviously we would’ve liked to get the win [against Montreal] but we still have [the playoffs] within our control,” said Bruin. “I really don’t feel as much pressure on us, I just feel we have to go out and play and the results will take care of themselves. There’re only two games left so there are not many more opportunities we can miss.”
• Cam Weaver made his third consecutive appearance as a substitute, his fifth in the last eight games after going more than three months without a first-team outing.
• Brian Ching also came off the bench for the final 18 minutes in his 14th substitute appearance since the midway point of the campaign.
• “I thought we did everything right [except for] getting in the back of the net,” said Weaver. “In the end, it’s about the ball crossing that line and hitting the back of the net and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that.”
Philadelphia Union won for a second match on the trot, defeating the New England Revolution 1-0 on Oct. 6 at PPL Park. Union are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points from 31 games.
• The game's lone goal came in the 73rd minute. After Michael Farfan won a free kick in the right corner, Jack McInerney snuck to the back post and headed home Keon Daniel's service.
WATCH: Union sting Revs late
• The Revolution finished the game a man down when midfielder Benny Feilhaber was sent off in the 89th minute for his second yellow card.
• Union interim manager John Hackworth made two changes to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1 at Toyota Park. Gabriel Farfan came into the back four for Sheanon Williams, and Gabriel Gomez replaced Danny Cruz in the midfield.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan - Michael Lahoud (Antoine Hoppenot 61), Brian Carroll - Michael Farfan, Gabriel Gomez (Roger Torres 71), Keon Daniel - Jack McInerney (Chris Albright 81).
• Union have now won two games in a row since being eliminated from playoff contention, and have taken the full three points in three of their last four games off an eight-game winless run.
• “We’ll get results and we’re playing good. Before, I think we were playing good, and we weren’t getting the results. And that’s what I think this team has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, because we want to prove to people that we can play well and get the results,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “And so the guys in that room have a lot of pride, a lot of character.”
• Jack McInerney scored for a third consecutive match, equaling the Union club record for consecutive games with a goal, which had been done three times previously.
• “Jack McInerney has been really important to us in the last couple months and it’s great to see him scoring goals because for this team, in the last couple games, he’s done a huge amount of work and this is a tough position for him because we’re asking him to do it by himself a little bit,” Hackworth said. “ … I think what you’re seeing right now is a goal-scorer's mentality. This is the third game in a row he’s scored and I can’t remember that happening here before. All of these things are good indicators of what we already knew.”
• Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath kept his eighth shutout of the season, his first since a scoreless draw at New England on Sept. 1.
• “Everyone sets individual goals as well as team goals,” MacMath said. “That’s on my priority list for individual goals. [Ten shutouts is] something I hope to reach. … It had been a while. I’m happy to get one under my belt and I’m trying to close out the season with as many shutouts as I can.”
• Making a start in consecutive games for the first time since June 30-July 4, Keon Daniel recorded his first assist of the season.
• “I think it showed in the last two games why everyone in the locker room and coaching staff feel that way. In consecutive games, he’s contributed in every possible way,” Hackworth said. “ … He was really good in possession and going forward. He joined the attack and his service, especially on set pieces, was excellent and consistent. But he did a lot of work to get back and his intensity was right. I think it’s been something he’s struggled with – the intensity in this league. He’s certainly stepped up in that regard.”
• After missing the New England match with what was first feared to be a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, winger Danny Cruz says he will be available for the final two matches this season. He is listed as questionable on the club’s injury report.
• “I don’t plan on missing any more games,” Cruz said. “ … I think people that know me know I can play through a lot. But that scared me. It was a sharp, shooting pain and something I’ve never felt before. So I was really worried. But everything turned out well.”