Tonight the Houston Dynamo return to action as they take on Monarcas Morelia in their third SuperLiga semifinal in three tournament appearances. The Dynamo reached the tournament's semifinals after finishing at the top of Group A with a record of 2-0-1.
Morelia, who play in the Mexican Primera Division, took second place in Group B with a 1-1-1 record, will be a tough opponent for a Dynamo squad hurt by injuries and suspensions.
Houston will be forced to play without defender Adrian Serioux, who injured his hamstring against the New York Red Bulls, goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who is having surgery in Germany for an abdominal injury and both Danny Cruz and Joseph Ngwenya who are out due to suspension and card accumulation. Forward Dominic Oduro was set to miss the match after receiving a highly contested red card against Puebla, but the Dynamo appealed the card and the suspension was overturned yesterday.
Houston's line-up should be reinforced by the inclusion of utility player Geoff Cameron, who has been out since April with a PCL tear, but returned to training last week with the team. Even with Cameron returning, the Dynamo are expecting a tough match.
‘We are up against a really good opponent that is going to make it very difficult for us,' forward Brian Ching said. ‘It's fun anytime you get to play against a team from Mexico - especially a good team. We enjoy it, and it's competitive. Whether it's a friendly or a competition like this, we are taking it very serious.'
Morelia captain Mauricio Romero echoed Ching's statements and believes Houston will be a tough opponent.
‘We believe we can go out and play competitive soccer, and we have plenty of respect for a team that is one of the best in MLS,' Romero said.
Tally Hall, who usually fills in as Houston's backup keeper, will get his sixth consecutive start (and fourth straight SuperLiga start) tonight. Hall is expected to the be keeper of the future and tonight's semifinal will be another quality test for the young keeper.
Morelia and Houston have met once before, in the group stage of the 2007 SuperLiga tournament, where they drew 1-1.
If, after 90 minutes of play, tonight's match ends in a draw, the game will be decided by penalty kicks without any extra time.
The winner of tonight's semifinal moves onto the tournament's final, where they will take on the New England Revolution who beat Puebla in penalty kicks last night. If the Dynamo win, the final would be a rematch of the 2008 championship game, which New England won on penalty kicks.
Tonight's game can be seen on TeleFutura and MLSSoccer.com and can be heard in the Houston area on SportsTalk 790 and La Ranchera 850.