Columbus takes to the field for the first time since manager Robert Warzycha's dismissal, facing a Dynamo side looking to jump back into the playoff places.Brian Bliss' quest to prove that he should become the Columbus Crew's permanent head coach begins on Wednesday.
Bliss, the club's technical director who took over on the sidelines on an interim basis for fired coach Robert Warzycha on Monday, guides the Crew to a clash with the Houston Dynamo at Crew Stadium with the side in dire need of a victory.
Columbus has lost five of its last seven matches, and its playoff hopes are on life support as a result. Sitting in eighth place and eight points out of fifth place with eight games to go, the Crew can nary afford to drop more points at home against one of its playoff-place competitors.
Winning won't be an easy task, though, not with star attacker Federico Higuain serving the final game of his two-game ban that he received for card accumulation and a red card. The club failed to score in his absence on Saturday against Seattle despite having a man advantage for 83 minutes. Higuain has shouldered the load for the Crew attack again this season, having accounted for nine goals and six assists.
Houston, meanwhile, has not been in the most sparkling form either, with just two wins in its last six games. The Dynamo enter the game on the heels of a bounceback 1-1 draw against Chicago, though, and could climb as high as fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a victory. Currently, Houston is level on points with fifth-place New England (with a game in hand but loses out on current tiebreakers) and sits two points behind fourth-place Philadelphia.
For Houston to defeat Columbus for the second time in as many months, it will have to do so without Oscar Boniek Garcia and Jermaine Taylor, who are on international duty with Honduras and Jamaica, respectively for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Garcia had two assists in the Dynamo's 3-1 triumph over the Crew on Aug. 3. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting on June 1.