LA Galaxy vs Houston Dynamo, Sunday 5/5/13 8:00 PM PDT Home Depot Center, Carson CA. ESPN2
Here we are, together again for the first time.
This Sunday the LA Galaxy face off against a familiar opponent. The Houston Dynamo, or as I like to call them, the New New England. Although, beating Houston TWICE in the MLS Cup Final has nothing to do with playing them now. So ignore that we’ve beat them TWICE for the Cup. Let’s just focus on this season’s first meeting instead of those TWO CUPS.
Ok… I think I’m done… no wait… TWO CUPS… ok I’m done.
Before tactics, before formations, before anything else, it’s important to note that Houston is coming into this game with as many red cards as they have goals in their past two games. As uncharacteristic as that is (Houston had one red card all of 2012), it’s a good thing for the Galaxy, because the last guy to see red for Houston was the captain, Brad Davis. Houston appealed the suspension, but the appeal was denied, and Davis will sit out Sunday’s match. Not that the Dynamo needed that; after all, they’re already dealing with the injury bug (latest injury report not released as of this writing).
Against Colorado, Houston came out in a 4-3-3 formation that was flexible and looked like a 4-4-2 at times. However, that formation relied on having Davis up top, and having him drop back to left mid when needed. It’s likely the adjustments we see from Dominic Kinnear will have the attack coming from the middle through Boniek Garcia or Ricardo Clark in a 4-3-1-2 formation, unless he really wants to test his depth. I expect Will Bruin and Andrew Driver to start up top with Giles Barnes likely playing behind them to provide some extra attacking power. The back line will rely on Bobby Boswell, and Jermaine Taylor, who’s returning from his red card suspension, to do their thing in the middle. Hate to say it, but the pair play well together, almost like a poor man’s Omar and AJ… ALMOST.
The Kids Are Alright
With injuries starting to pile up for the Galaxy, Bruce Arena decided to play some of his young guns against Real Salt Lake. Even Arena himself couldn’t have envisioned the success they enjoyed. Without a DP on the field the Galaxy seemed to almost toy with Salt Lake, allowing them to attack just to shut them down in the final third. Though it was hard to celebrate, with Jack McBean joining the injured list with a fractured clavicle that, after surgery, will rule him out for 6-8 weeks.
On the other hand, Landon Donovan is back to full training and expected to play against Houston. Robbie Keane left practice early on Tuesday after a light workout, as did Todd Dunivant. Carlo Cudicini expects to play Sunday, but is still having trouble striking the ball. With Brian Rowe’s performance against RSL, Bruce Arena may not want to risk it and sit Cudicini an extra game. In all likelihood, we’ll see the same lineup we saw against RSL, with Donovan starting in McBean’s spot from last week.
The biggest advantage for the Galaxy will not be it’s depth, nor will it be Davis’ suspension. The biggest advantage for the Galaxy is going to be home field advantage. Houston’s last second draw against Toronto FC was their first and only road point in all competitions this season, including a preseason loss to the Charleston Battery of the 3rd division. Which explains why they can’t win the MLS Cup: it’s not in Houston, ha!