Scouting Report: Houston Dynamo
Coming off a rain-shortened 1-1 draw at Chicago on Sunday night, the Houston Dynamo travel to Columbus in search of another road result.
Desperate for points after losing two straight matches at the hands of the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union, the Crew will look to turn things around this weekend at Crew Stadium (7:30PM EST/FOX Sports Ohio).
Here are a few things to know about the Crew's next opponent:
Homefield advantage can be huge in Major League Soccer. After all, home teams hold a 1,514-828-562 record in MLS history.
Just don't tell that to the Houston Dynamo.
Dominic Kinnear's team is defying those odds this season, and currently stands 2-1-1 while playing all of its matches on the road as it awaits the completion of BBVA Compass Stadium in downtown Houston in early May.
Facing a similar situation last season, Sporting Kansas City began 2011 1-6-3 before Sporting Livestrong Park opened. Remarkably, Sporting finished the regular season atop the Eastern Conference table.
That's something the Dynamo hope to replicate this season, while having more success on the road than Kansas City did a year ago.
STELLAR SET PIECES
Much of Houston's success has come by way of deadball service from the left foot of midfield maestro Brad Davis. Last season, the Dynamo scored 14 set piece goals, tying them for most in MLS with the LA Galaxy. Nine of those goals came from corner kicks, while the other five deadball tallies came from free kicks. Davis' League-leading 16 assists in 2011, most of which came from set pieces, earned him MLS MVP runner-up honors.
Along with Davis' service, perhaps his plentiful options in the Houston attack could help provide explanation for the Dynamo's set piece supremacy. Davis' two main targets are big-bodied forwards Brian Ching and Will Bruin. Typically joining the two strikers in the box on set pieces are additional aerial threats Geoff Cameron, Andre Hainault, and Bobby Boswell coming from the defense.
While Davis' status for this weekend's match is unknown after missing Sunday's match in Chicago with a calf strain. Regardless, Chad Marshall and the Crew defense will have its hands full on Saturday night marking so many potent attackers from deadball play.
Columbus had the upper hand on Houston in 2011, beating and drawing the Dynamo in two meetings.
On June 18, the Crew traveled to Texas to collect a 2-0 result at Robertson Stadium. Then-rookie Bernardo Añor notched his first career goal and assist, helping Columbus to secure sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference standings at the time.
In the return match on September 14, the Crew salvaged a 2-2 draw after going down a man when Emmanuel Ekpo was sent off in the 11th minute. A pair of Andres Mendoza penalty kick goals were enough to supply Columbus with a hard-earned point to put the club atop the Eastern Conference table.