Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact


Houston Dynamo defender Warren Creavalle (5) and midfielder Brad Davis (11) and Montreal Impact midfielder Collen Warner (18) attempt to get control of the ball during the first half at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever the Houston Dynamo and Montreal Impact meet, the level of intensity is sure to be high and there is always a chance that blood will be spilled. This is only the third season in the league for Montreal, but a rivalry developed between these two teams on day one and the mutual dislike has only grown since then.

It all started in the 2011 expansion draft when the Dynamo left club legend Brian Ching unprotected. The logic was that the Impact would not want to select a player near the end of his career with such a large contract. Ching sought to ensure he would not be selected by declaring that he would retire if the Impact drafted him. Jesse Marsch, then head coach of the Impact, selected Ching with the first pick of the draft much to the ire of Dynamo fans who had hoped to see Ching lead the Dynamo out for the inaugural match at BBVA Compass stadium in 2012.

That Marsch and Ching did not particularly like each other prior to the expansion draft threw further fuel on the fire. The Impact ended up holding Ching for ransom and a trade was finally made to bring Ching back to Houston.

The first time the two sides met on the field of play was June 23, 2012. Tensions were high in a match that saw Adam Moffat get sent off with a red card. Following the match, Dynamo head coach Dom Kinnear and others went to the Impact locker room for a confrontation after learning that Montreal sporting director Nick De Santis had taunted and berated Moffat.

When the Impact made their first appearance in Houston nearly a month later, the atmosphere was intense. Fans and players alike wanted to lay a beating on Montreal; their wish was granted as the Dynamo prevailed 3-0.

The last time these two teams met was in the knockout round of the 2013 playoffs. An edgy affair saw the Dynamo rout the Impact by a scoreline of 3-0 following a 70th minute sending off of Nelson Rivas for a second yellow card offense.

Montreal lost the plot in the dying minutes when Andrés Romero kicked Kofi Sarkodie leading to a mass confrontation that culminated in Impact forward Marco Di Vaio getting a choke hold on Corey Ashe. Both Romero and Di Vaio were sent off with red cards and are suspended for this weekends match.


Montreal Impact (0-0-1), 0 points

MLS referee Mark Geiger calls a red card on Montreal Impact defender Nelson Rivas (2) during the second half against the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Impact are coming off a 3-2 loss at FC Dallas last weekend in a performance that was poor defensively but positive from an offensive standpoint given the absence of Di Vaio. With Di Vaio still suspended for this weekend, Montreal received a further blow when it was announced that Sanna Nyassi is unavailable for this match. Nyassi scored against Dallas and generally looked lively. Blake Smith will likely deputize for Nyassi

The Impact do get a bit of good news as midfielder Patrice Bernier looks likely to return; expect him to take the place of Collen Warner who went the full 90 against Dallas. With Bernier, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp and Andrew Wenger in the lineup, the Impact can still score goals and the Dynamo will have to defend better than they did against New England.

This will likely be the second week in a row that the Dynamo face a 5-man midfield and the Impact will look to clog up the middle of the pitch and hit the Dynamo on the counter. However, the Impact back line is weak and a repeat of the sloppiness they showed last weekend and they will concede goals to a Dynamo offense that looked highly potent last week against New England.

Heath Pearce is still a possibility to play against the Dynamo, but given rust it is unlikely his presence would to much to sure up the back line.

Houston Dynamo (1-0-0), 3 points

Following his knee injury against New England it seemed likely that Tony Cascio would miss this match so it was no surprise to see him on the injury list as questionable. Ricardo Clark being listed as questionable, however, came as a very big surprise.

Clark worked out on the sideline on Thursday but participated in training today, which is a positive sign. With Warren Creavalle only just returning from long-term injury and Servando Carrasco having recently missed time, Clark’s absence would be a major concern.

Clark played a big role last weekend in protecting the new center back pairing of Jermaine Taylor and David Horst. If Clark is unable to go, Carrasco likely gets the start as Creavalle has only recently returned to training. However, with Clark practicing today I expect he will be ready to go Saturday night.

Expect Andrew Driver to start on the right side of the midfield in place of Cascio with Boniek Garcia remaining in the center of the midfield where he was so successful against New England.


Montreal: Sanna Nyassi (out), Adrian Lopez (out), Nelson Rivas (out), Maxim Tissot (out), Marco Di Vaio (suspended), Andrés Romero (suspended)

Houston: Eric Brunner (out), Tony Cascio (questionable), Ricardo Clark (questionable)


Montreal: GK – Troy Perkins; Def – Jeb Brovsky, Matteo Ferrari, Henri Camara, Eric Miller; Mid – Patrice Bernier, Hernán Bernardello, Blake Smith, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp; Fwd – Andrew Wenger

Houston: GK – Tally Hall; Def – Corey Ashe, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor, Kofi Sarkodie; Mid – Brad Davis, Ricardo Clark, Boniek Garcia, Andrew Driver; Fwd – Giles Barnes, Will Bruin.


It is no coincidence that the Dynamo host Montreal while Di Vaio and Romero are still suspended. MLS set it up this way as part of the punishment for the Impact playoff behavior. The Dynamo were effective in controlling the midfield and carving up a weak back line against New England; this match should look much the same. I foresee another clean sheet and a goal bonanza including one set piece goal. The Dynamo prevail by a score of 3-0.