Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
After a two-week hiatus from league play, FC Dallas (3-8-4, 13 points) returns to the pitch this Saturday to take on their Texas rivals the Houston Dynamo (4-4-4, 16 points).
El Captain is on the line at the new BBVA Compass Stadium. This will mark the first trip to the new downtown stadium for FC Dallas – and it is the only meeting between the two clubs this season.
Last season Houston won the season series with Dallas by winning a 1-0 game in late September at FC Dallas Stadium.
The Dynamo are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps this past Sunday. Macoumba Kandji was the lone goal scorer for the Orange in the defeat.
Orange in the attack
Houston manager Dominic Kinnear doesn’t have a ton of offensive weapons but he does have a couple guys that do know how to find the back of the net. Second-year striker Will Bruin currently leads the club with five goals – three more than the second leading scorers Brad Davis and Andre Hainault.
Bruin is a big, physical forward that does well in space and is good to finish off any chance he gets. He takes a lot of shots (currently leads the club with 33 shots, 18 on target), something Dallas defenders will have to keep in mind.
Up top with Bruin will likely be long-time Dynamo legend Brian Ching. The 34-year old striker only has one goal to his name this season and has struggled to find the back of the net. Ching loves to fight for the ball in the penalty box and has always been a sneaky goal scorer.
In the midfield, the attack comes and goes with left midfielder Brad Davis. The veteran midfielder has always been a force to deal with on the left hand side of the field. Davis currently has two goals and two assists to his record this season.
On the right side of the midfield will either be Calen Carr or Colin Clark. Both have seen plenty of time this season at this position.
Luiz Camargo will sit behind the two strikers and be the central facilitator for Kinnear’s attack. He is a smart passer that doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.
Kinnear’s bench isn’t too deep when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. Kandji is a decent striker that finally got his first goal in Vancouver last weekend. Cam Weaver is another big target striker that Kinnear can turn to as well.
Defensive midfielder Adam Moffat is a cagey midfielder that always plays physical. He will sit in front of the back four and will be a big part of the Dynamo defense in the center of the park.
The back four have been fairly consistent this season for Kinnear. Lead by the center defense duo of Bobby Boswell and Geoff Cameron, Houston have a rugged defense that teams struggle against due to their size and physicality.
Cameron, the US International, is smart in the air and does well with the ball at his feet. He is also a big target on set pieces for this club as well.
Boswell is another smart defender that makes plenty of good decisions out on the pitch for his club. He typically shows up in all the right places and does well at distributing the ball out of the defensive third of the field.
Corey Ashe will man the left back position. The 26-year old has really come into his own in the defense ever since moving to the left back position from the midfield a year ago.
Canadian international Hainault will anchor the right back position. He is a big defender that is also a good target on set pieces for the Dynamo.
Tally Hall has become a consistent starter in this league. He currently has 31 saves on the season.
Keys to three points
Kinnear employs a diamond 4-4-2 formation. With this, the wings are a little more exposed and the bulk of the chances will have to come from the wide areas.
Houston plays compact in their midfield as well. They have plenty of big targets to get a head on the ball and given their scrappy nature, you can always expect them to be looking for free kicks in their offensive part of the field.
Dallas needs to remain calm in this one – even though it is a big rivalry game. Keeping a level head on their shoulders will go a long way in this one as suspensions have killed Schellas Hyndman’s team so far this season as much as the injuries have.
Also, playing with a good deal of pride will go a long way for this Dallas squad as well. Coming into this game on such a long winless steak, showing up with a great level of pride in ending that will help.
One thing is for certain, this one will be a slug-fest.