After another gritty performance against the Chicago Fire, the Houston Dynamo return home to host Eastern Conference rivals, D.C. United. Right now, Houston sits in third place in the East with nine points from a record of 2-1-3, two points ahead of United, who currently sit in sixth place.
Don't let the standings be misleading, though, D.C. United is a very tough and capable team, and the Dynamo defense will be tested again tonight. Former Sochaux and U.S. Men's National Team forward Charlie Davies will be on the field tonight. Davies, who leads the league with five goals, has come back from his terrible car wreck and injuries last year, and is back from Europe terrorizing MLS defenses. A number of his goals have come from the penalty spot, but Davies has proved to be both quick and nimble, and will prove tough for the Dynamo defense to contain.
The Dynamo defense should be up to the task, though, and Tally Hall will be leading the charge for the defensive core. Currently he ranks towards the top of the league with a goals against average less than 1 (0.83) and a save percentage of 78.6%. Former D.C. United defender and current Dynamo goal leader, Bobby Boswell, will be in the center of defense alongside Andre Hainault, who continues to fill in for the still recovering Jermaine Taylor. Taylor did return to training this week, but is listed as questionable on the injury report. Corey Ashe and Hunter Freeman are likely to fill in on the outside of the defense.
With most players returning from injury, the Dynamo midfield looks to return to full-strength. Lovel Palmer and Geoff Cameron should start in the middle, between Danny Cruz and Brad Davis. Colin Clark could get significant minutes tonight after performing well against the Chicago Fire and their reserve team in two matches last week. If Cruz's knee is still problematic, expect him to come out around the 60th minute.
The Dynamo offense gets a boost this week after captain Brian Ching returned to training after recovering from his rib injury. Head Coach Dominic Kinnear will also have new addition Sergio Koke as an option in attack. Koke arrived from Spain just a few days ago, but has already been training with the team and is anxious to play. While he is still adjusting to his new team and the league, Koke could come off of the bench sometime after half time. Neither Ching or Koke are expected to start, but both would provide a tremendous boost to the attack in the second half. Houston's current forward of tandem of Cam Weaver and Will Bruin are likely to get the start.
The Dynamo will be honoring former Dynamo goalkeeper and current D.C. United coach and interim goalkeeper, Pat Onstad, at the game Friday night. After the game, there will be fireworks in the player's honor.
- Three of the Dynamo's goals have now been scored by defenders, with Bobby Boswell scoring his second. It was the second consecutive match a defender providing all the scoring for Houston, after Hunter Freeman netted the lone goal vs. New England.
- "One of my goals this year is to be in better condition, and I did some research on where Brad [Davis] is putting some balls, so I am trying to be more active going forward," Boswell said. "It's good to contribute, but the only repercussions are my teammates have to hear about it. It's all fun when you're winning."
- Three of the Dynamo's seven goals on the season have come directly from corner kicks, while two others started with a corner kick - one that was half-cleared and sent back in with a cross, and a second that eventually was a rebound off the crossbar.
- "We always want the center backs to attack the ball," said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. "The big center guys - Bobby and Andre [Hainault] - were coming forward and Bobby's scored a couple goals and seems to pop up in the right place. Brad put the ball in the right place and Bobby is attacking it and it's a great goal."
- The Dynamo are now unbeaten on the road in six games (2-0-4), including all three in the 2011 season. The club record for a road unbeaten streak is seven games, set in the team's inaugural season of 2006.
- Jamaican international Je-Vaughn Watson made his MLS debut against the Fire, entering the match in the 78th minute for right back Hunter Freeman.
- The Dynamo will have Spanish midfielder Koke available for Friday's match after introducing him at a press conference during the week. He last spent five seasons with Greek Super League side Aris Thessaloniki.
Houston Dynamo - OUT: FW Calen Carr (concussion); DOUBTFUL: FW Brian Ching (L rib separation); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jermaine Taylor (R foot sprain); MF Francisco Navas Cobo (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Danny Cruz (R knee hyperextension).
D.C. United - OUT: MF Junior Carreiro (R ankle sprain); GK Steve Cronin (L wrist fracture); DF Devon McTavish (concussion); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jed Zayner (L hamstring strain).
- Jasen Anno. SAR (bench): C.J. Morgante; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Landis Wiley
- Anno MLS Career: 21 games; FC/gm: 22.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 15; pens: 6
Project Houston Dynamo Starting XI
F: Will Bruin
F: Cam Weaver
LM: Brad Davis (C)
CAM: Geoff Cameron
CDM: Lovel Palmer
RM: Danny Cruz
LB: Corey Ashe
CB: Bobby Boswell
CB: Andre Hainault
RB: Hunter Freeman
GK: Tally Hall
Substitutes: Tyler Deric (GK), Eddie Robinson, Mike Chabala, Sergio Koke, Brian Ching, Colin Clark, JeVaughn Watson
Check back here closer to kickoff for the full game day roster for both the Houston Dynamo and D.C. United. Also, don't forget to follow here for live, in-game updates and feel free to check out Dynamo Theory for Zach's game stream.