The Houston Dynamo team that will visit PPL Park on Sunday is a much better side than the one the Union saw in Houston, on June 30. On that day, a controversial call in the box led to a Dynamo victory on a late penalty kick goal by Brian Ching.
That game marked the debut of Honduran international Boniek Garcia who has hit the ground running and is yet to stop. The crafty midfielder's numbers show one goal and six assists in 13 games but that doesn't tell the true story. With Garcia in the lineup, the club has gone 6-2-5. He has only missed one game while away on international duty.
Garcia’s insertion into the lineup helped Houston keep possession in addition to playing more of an attacking style. It also gave Houston more balance as everything wasn’t as forced through Brad Davis in the midfield. Garcia and Davis have played well together developing an instant chemistry. They are a less predictable team these days with that duo playing at a very high level.
While the Dynamo lost gifted central defender Geoff Cameron on a transfer to Stoke City, they did bring back a former player in Ricardo Clark who helped this team win two MLS Cups. Clark was on the U.S.' FIFA World Cup squad in 2010. They most recently added another midfielder to the mix in Giles Barnes who will give them even more depth down the stretch drive.
The Dynamo, MLS Cup finalists a year ago are no lock to make the playoffs in a competitive eastern conference, especially the way Chicago and Columbus have been playing lately. I wouldn't want to bet against them though. Head Coach Dominic Kinnear has already won two MLS Cups and has his team in contention to win its group in the CONCACAF Champions League.
In Davis, Kinnear has one of the league's best playmakers. In Tally Hall, he has a goalkeeper who has won several games on his own this season. Toss in Garcia, a talented striker in Will Bruin and defensive veterans like Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault and you can see why this team is dangerous. If they do get into the playoffs (and I believe they do), no one will want to face them.
This Sunday at 4 p.m. (6ABC), once again at PPL Park, the Union will be trying to snap an eight game winless streak, which matches a mark they set one year ago. The offense will get chances against a Dynamo team that will attack out of their 4-3-3 formation. Conversely, the Union defense can expect to see a lot from Garcia and Davis on Sunday afternoon.
Here are some numbers that will concern the Union going into the game:
*Houston has scored eight goals this season off of corner kicks
*Houston scored 15 goals after the 75th minute
*Houston has also won the possession battle in 24 of their 29 games played.
If the Union are to snap this winless streak, they'll need to be at their sharpest on Sunday.
See you at PPL Park.