The Houston Dynamo continue their grueling run tonight with a fourth game in ten days when they host Chivas USA in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Tonight's match will be the third of at least four meetings between the two MLS clubs this season, with Houston taking both regular season meetings by shut out earlier this year (3-0 in Houston on April 17 and 2-0 in Carson on May 8). The two teams are set to meet each other again soon when SuperLiga kicks off in Houston in two weeks.
Advantage and history may favor the Dynamo, who are 8-0-3 in their last eleven games against Chivas USA, but Houston, again, is contending with a mess of injuries and player fatigue. Forward Luis Angel Landin picked up a knee injury in last weeks' Open Cup match against Miami FC and is expected to be out 2-4 weeks, and midfielder Brad Davis strained his hip flexor last week during practice and is not available for tonight's game. Davis also could miss Saturday's match against the Columbus Crew. These injuries, compounded by a congested schedule, could test the depths of Houston's bench and will certainly be a concern for Dynamo Head Coach Dominic Kinnear.
'For us, it's our squad,' Kinnear said. 'I think we've played already five more games than most of the teams around the league. A lot of the guys have logged a lot of minutes. It will be similar to the game in the previous round of Open Cup, but you have to remember there's some injuries involved as well, too. Joe (Ngwenya) being suspended (for the next regular-season game), I'm sure he's going to get an extended run out there. We'll see. I think it will be very similar to what we had before.'
After picking up a red card on Thursday against Toronto FC, forward Joseph Ngwenya will be ineligible to play in this weekend's game, and could get the start up top alongside Cam Weaver. Dominic Oduro may also start at forward, pushing Ngwenya into the center-attacking midfield role he position he started at against Toronto. Coach Kinnear will likely look to his young guns in the midfield again, meaning season-standout Danny Cruz could start on the bench in favor of rookie Sammy Appiah and Dynamo Academy product Francisco Navas Cobo starting on the outside of the Houston's formation. Navas Cobo looked very good against Miami FC and consistently found space while in attack, creating scoring chances. Danny Cruz should get some playing time late in the game when his speed can exploit the defense's tired legs.
The remainder of the lineup should be similar to last week's against Miami FC; Serioux at center-defensive midfielder (or defender, depending on where Mulrooney plays) with a back line made up of Cochrane, Mulrooney, Robinson, and Waibel. Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala should see minutes late in the game coming off the bench.
Tally Hall will most certainly start in goal for Houston and will be looking to keep another clean sheet after he was able to hold Miami FC scoreless. While Hall did not have to make any dramatic saves in the third round of the Open Cup, he was solid at the back, quickly pounced on shots, and effectively limited Miami's chances on goal.
Chivas USA will be without Sacha Kljestan who recently left the club and signed with Belgian champions, R.S.C. Anderlecht. Defender Jonathan Bornstein is likely to miss tonight's game after returning last week from South Africa where he took part in the United States Men's National Team's World Cup campaign.
The Dynamo have had relatively successful in their U.S. Open Cup campaigns, reaching the semifinals last year before falling to eventual champions Seattle Sounders in overtime.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Robertson Stadium, and the match can be heard in the Houston area on SportsTalk 790 and at online at sports790.com. There will be television broadcast for the game.
The winner of tonight's game will face the winner of the Seattle Sounders/LA Galaxy game in the semifinals on August 31.
Tickets for the match are available at HoustonDynamo.com or over the phone. Dynamo season ticket holders can purchase tickets for a reduced price of $8, and all other tickets cost $12. All tickets are general admission with seating on a first-come basis. There will be no charge for parking at Tuesday's game.
Predicted Dynamo Line-Up (4-4-2)
F: Dominic Oduro
F: Cam Weaver
LM: Francisco Navas Cobo
CAM: Joseph Ngwenya
RM: Sammy Appiah
CDM: Adrian Serioux/Richard Mulrooney
D: Ryan Cochrane
D: Eddie Robinson
D: Craig Waibel
D: Richard Mulrooney/Adrian Serioux
Bench: Mike Chabala, Tyler Deric (GK), Danny Cruz, Corey Ashe, Brian Mullan, Lovel Palmer
Open Cup information
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as U.S. Soccer's National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 95 consecutive years dating back to 1914. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.
The champion of the Open Cup receives a bid to the qualifying round of the following year's CONCACAF Champions League.
Since MLS teams entered the competition in 2006, only one non-MLS team has won the title: the 1999 Rochester Raging Rhinos, with now-Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad in goal.
Major League Soccer Saturday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. vs. Columbus Crew, Robertson Stadium
The Dynamo will return to league play on Saturday, hosting the Columbus Crew, two-time defending winners of the MLS Supporters' Shield, awarded to the team with the best regular-season record. The Crew won the 2008 MLS Cup title, and the teams are an even 2-2-4 against each other all-time.