Always providing intense matchups, Chivas USA and Houston square off again.
Zach Woosley on the Houston Dynamo: The bright side for the Houston Dynamo at the moment is that they aren't necessarily playing poorly, they are just making mistakes. Mistakes can be fixed and, despite the disappointing performance against Los Angeles, there is still a long way to go this season. Injuries aren't helping either with Cam Weaver picking an injury in training during the week and Richard Mulrooney leaving with a knee injury in the first half on Saturday. The silver lining in Saturday's loss was the solid play from Lovel Palmer and Danny Cruz. Palmer was comfortable on the ball and helped settle the midfield and improve Houston's possession, while Cruz brought some much needed energy to the field.
Manuel Carrera on Chivas USA: Chivas USA came out like a team possessed versus the New York Red Bulls at the Home Depot Center on Saturday. The Goats, feeling the pressure of two opening season losses, played with more confidence through the midfield and held steadfast defensively. Martin Vasquez inserted a lineup that brought energy to the field and ran New York off the pitch. Striker Chukwudi Chijindu in his first start of the season seemingly sprinted the entire 90 minutes while super-sub Jesus Padilla scored a goal and forced an own goal.
Houston: Three matches down and still no goals from a Dynamo forward, and it doesn't look like things won't be getting better very quickly. Luis Angel Landin will be suspended thanks to his straight red card on Saturday for kicking out at Omar Gonzales. This leaves Houston with Dominic Oduro as their only healthy forward, with Cam Weaver still in doubt. After sitting the bench for the Real Salt Lake match, Weaver had a setback in training and was unavailable against LA. If Weaver is unable to go this weekend, head coach Dominic Kinnear will have to make some tactical adjustments to try to find some goals. Word out of Houston is that Joseph Ngwenya, who has been on trial with the club, will be signed this week but whether or not he will be available for Saturday remains up in the air.
Chivas USA: Though Chivas USA did score two goals, there was evidence that they are still a work in progress from the perspective that they are still struggling with the final ball to the penalty area. This is where Osael Romero was supposed to help, but he struggled in the first two games of the season and found himself on the bench on versus New York. Whether it is an issue of fitness or difficulty adjusting to a more physical league, Romero needs to show that he can take pressure off of Sacha Kljestan.
Houston: Kinnear will earn his paycheck against Chivas USA. His limited options up front will put more pressure on Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis to create opportunities and goals for the team. Eddie Robinson struggled with the Galaxy's speed and it will be interesting to see if Kinnear sticks with the veteran or starts Ryan Cochrane in his place. Either way the defense will have to play better against the other team from LA, who also have speed at the forward position. If Kinnear is to stick with his 4-4-2 formation, he'll likely need Cam Weaver to be healthy and ready to go on Saturday. A 4-5-1 is a possibility as well with Corey Ashe coming in to the midfield to help with the attack.
Chivas USA: Martin Vasquez opened the game in a 4-4-2 versus New York with Jonathan Bornstein on the left wing. Chivas USA were able to create a few dangerous opportunities out of this formation, though it was temporary due to Ante Jazic’s injury at the end of the first half. Also of note was that Maykel Galindo began the game on the bench due to an ankle injury that has hampered him through the past few weeks. Look for Padilla to get a start after his inspired performance with New York alongside Chijindu.
Houston: The First Half. After playing themselves into first half holes against both RSL and LA, the Dynamo came out of the locker room at halftime with more energy in both games. If the Dynamo can increase their energy and focus at the start of the match and prevent the early deficits, it should make their lives a little easier moving forward. Look to see if Houston comes out more aggressive early on Saturday and tries to find an early goal to play with the lead, rather than having to chase for an equalizer.
Chivas USA: Confidence. Chivas USA got the performance that they needed to boost their spirits before things began to spiral out of control. They shut down Juan Pablo Angel, won the possession battle, and got their first two goals of the season. With the wind back in their sails, the young Goats will take their difficult start as a lesson learned going forward.
Houston: It's tough to predict results for the Dynamo right now, but what we do know is that despite the calender still being in April, this match against Chivas is important not only in the standings but in terms of getting a good result to bounce back from the disappointing loss to the Galaxy. The problem is, where will the goals come from? Until the Dynamo prove they can score regularly, it's tough to be overly optimistic. Thus I expect the dreaded scoreless draw.
Chivas USA: Houson Dynamo 0 - 1 CD Chivas USA: While Houston had a big week off the pitch with the announcement of their new stadium, the injury to Ching and Houston's traditionally poor early-season form make Dominic Kinnear’s task versus the Goats a difficult one. A hard fought goal from Chivas USA wins it.
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