Three much-needed points will be on the table for the Crew's taking Sunday night when the club travels to Houston for a pivotal Eastern Conference matchup. However, the task at hand will be easier said than done as the Dynamo has yet to lose at newly-opened BBVA Compass Stadium.
"[Houston] is unbeaten at home," goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said after Friday's training session in Obetz. "They're feeling it, they've got a lot of confidence. We have to go out there and match their intensity early, but understand it's kind of hot there. We have to play our game and make them adjust to us."
Coming off an impassioned 1-1 draw Wednesday against the LA Galaxy in the team's first match since rookie Kirk Urso passed away suddenly on August 5, Crew players will look to keep their emotions in check in the hostile road environment.
"Obviously, if they're doing well at home, it's going to be tough for us," Danny O'Rourke explained. "If we can keep our emotions at bay and finish our chances, we'll be all right."
The Black & Gold has lost just one time in six visits to Houston. In its most recent visit, the Crew took down the Dynamo 2-0 last season behind Bernardo Anor's goal and assist.
"If you look at the way we play and the way [the Dynamo] play over the years, it's been pretty consistent," O'Rourke said. "We play pretty similar. They have a good team, a good coach."
Sunday could be the much-anticipated debut of the Crew's new Designated Player, Federico Higuaín. The Argentine forward trained for the first time on Thursday afternoon and his impressed his new teammates with his skill and offensive work-rate.
"A lot of times-- and I think back to the guys who have come in before-- it takes [new players] a while to become accustomed to the style of play, but you can tell he's a class player," O'Rourke complimented his new teammate. "He's a good all-around guy and an unselfish guy. We're excited to have him."
"Right away from yesterday in his first practice, his work-rate, intensity, and skill were all on display," Gruenebaum echoed. "I think he's going to be a real asset to the team."
Gruenebaum says Higuaín has adapted to the light-hearted nature of the Crew locker room as well.
"We've played a few pranks on him already," the goalkeeper said. "He's fitting in and laughing it off."