Getty Images

Preview: Crew vs. Dynamo

The basics

Columbus Crew (8-2-3, first place in Eastern Conference) v. Houston Dynamo (5-7-3, sixth place in Western Conference)

All-Time Record: Houston are 2-2-4 all-time against the Crew

TV info

KHOU 11.2, TV Informa (local); Direct Kick, MatchDay Live.

Last meeting

Both Houston and Columbus were longing for points last September to improve their standings in both the Supporters’ Shield race and playoff positioning for home-field advantage. A set piece found Frankie Hejduk unmarked at the far post and the defender gave the Crew an early lead. However, Houston battled back as Cam Weaver pulled the teams level in the 80th minute. The feisty affair saw both Ricardo Clark and Adam Moffat shown red and ejected late. Geoff Cameron was whistled for a foul in the box in the game’s final minutes and Eddie Gaven scored the game-winner in injury time from the penalty spot to give Columbus a 2-1 victory at home.

What's at stake?

Houston hope to continue to build some momentum after a very solid road draw against a good Toronto FC team. The Dynamo are currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs and need three points after going winless in their last five MLS contests. Columbus need points to continue to distance themselves from New York in the East and also to close the gap for the Supporters’ Shield between themselves and the LA Galaxy.

Heroes & villains

Brian Ching vs. Chad Marshall: After scoring three goals and notching an assist in his last five MLS games, Ching seems to be venting his frustration at missing the World Cup on any MLS opponent that stands in his way. Marshall provides a more formidable opponent than most, though. With Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s delivery on set pieces, keeping Marshall away might be more important to Houston’s chances at victory.

Dynamo defense vs. themselves: Houston’s D has struggled with poor turnovers, poor clearances and too many misplays of late. Things get no easier with Schelotto, Rogers and Gaven providing some of the better offensive attacking talent in MLS. Houston can’t afford any mistakes against a team that can both punish the mistake and then dig in and keep their opponent off the scoreboard.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm…”

Midfielder Brad Davis has tallied two goals and three assists in the two previous Military Appreciation Nights.

He said it

“We need the same attitude we brought against Toronto. We have to stay on our feet defensively because they draw fouls around the box, and that is when they’re really dangerous.” – Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear on the Crew