Houston's trip to New York marks the second road game in two weeks and another challenge for the Dynamo.
While the Red Bulls have four points in two games, their performance against the Columbus Crew last week was an anomaly. Due to the international break, NYRB was forced to field a B-team roster in the absence of a number of key players. That won't be the case tonight, as the Red Bulls will be with US Men's National Team starlets, Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream, and Jamaican national, Dane Richards.
New York's squad could be strengthened further if newly acquired midfielder, Dwayne DeRosario, who was traded late in the week from Toronto FC and used to play for the Houston Dynamo, plays in tonight's match. DeRosario was spotted at Red Bull Arena with his family this afternoon, though his status at this moment is unknown.
The Dynamo again will be forced to field a modified starting XI after Jermaine Taylor sprained his foot while on national team last weekend with the Jamaican national team. Midfielder Geoff Cameron is also questionable for the game after picking up a hamstring sprain earlier in the week during practice (as of the most recent injury report). Good new for Houston, though, as forward and team leader Brian Ching has fully recovered from his hamstring strain and should start up top alongside newcomer Jason Garey or Will Bruin.
Tonight's match will be a tough test for Houston; New York has been selected by many pundits (including myself) to top the Eastern Conference at the end of the season. So what are the keys to tonight's game? Well, let's take a look.
- The Dynamo always seem to play better with Brian Ching on the field. This was evident against the Seattle Sounders last week, despite Ching's limited minutes in the match. Ching may not be the most mobile player anymore, but he is the leader of the Dynamo and the entire team seems to be more relaxed when Ching is in the line-up.
Brad Davis again is a key player for Houston, but tonight against the Red Bulls, his importance may be more emphasized on what he does off of the ball. Teams know that Davis is the key to Houston's attack, so they tend to focus their defensive resources on the left side of the pitch. This leads to a defensive imbalance and increases the role of the right midfielder, which tonight will either be manned by Corey Ashe or Danny Cruz. Davis then will be important both when he has the ball and when he doesn't and will have to draw defenders towards him to spread out New York's defense to create room for Ching and company to develop attacks.
Andre Hainault, who is expected to fill in for Jermaine Taylor alongside Bobby Boswell at centerback, will need to be firm in tonight's match. Against the Union and the Sounders, Houston's defense played timid and looked disorganized early on in the games, and Hainault will need to settle early on against the Red Bulls. If Houston can avoid the early goal, the team could return home with at least one point and build momentum for next week's game back in Houston.
OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DF Jermaine Taylor (R foot sprain); PROBABLE: MF Colin Clark (L knee ACL surgery); MF Geoff Cameron (L hamstring strain)
New York Red Bulls
OUT: DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery); GK Greg Sutton (concussion)
Project Dynamo Starting XI
F: Brian Ching
F: Jason Garey
LM: Brad Davis
CAM: Geoff Cameron
CDM: Lovel Palmer
RM: Corey Ashe
LB: Hunter Freeman
CB: Bobby Boswell
CB: Andre Hainault
RB: Kofi Sarkodie
GK: Tally Hall
Subs: Tyler Deric (GK), Mike Chabala, Will Bruin, Danny Cruz, Calen Carr, Eddie Robinson, Cam Weaver
Check back here or over at Dynamo Theory during the match for in-match commentary, opinions, and analysis.