Preview: Houston Dynamo at New York Red Bulls


Nov 6, 2013; Harrison, NJ, USA; Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall (1) makes a save in second half of MLS game at Red Bull Arena. the Huston Dynamo defeated the New York Red Bulls 2-1 in overtime.

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

When the Houston Dynamo visit the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday it, it will be the opposite of an immovable object meeting an unstoppable force. New York has yet to keep a clean sheet this season. The Dynamo have managed only three goals in their last five matches; two off of set pieces and one a total fluke deflection off of an opposing defender.

The Dynamo cannot score, the Red Bulls cannot stop teams from scoring. Something has to give. These are two teams that are a far cry at the moment from their 2nd round playoff match-up of last season. The Red Bulls won this past weekend for the first time this season. The Dynamo managed to avoid losing for the 4th time in a row.

Both teams will be missing key players. Brad Davis looks likely to remain sidelined for the Dynamo while Kofi Sarkodie is suspended after his red card against the Philadelphia Union this past weekend. For New York, Dynamo killer Tim Cahill will not play – the best possible news the Dynamo could have received after what he did to them last season. Defender Richard Eckersley as well as Bobby Convey are out. Ibrahim Sekagya is suspended after his red card this weekend.

The Teams

New York Red Bulls (1-2-4), 7 points, 8th Place

Injuries have been hard on New York this season; as a result Head Coach Mike Petke has been forced to use a different starting XI in each of the teams’ 7 matches this season. The only consistent piece and performer for the Red Bulls this season has been Lloyd Sam.

Sam has troubled the Dynamo in the past with his pace, and the Dynamo defensive line will need to keep a careful eye on him. Thierry Henry is not off to his best start, however he did manage a goal this past weekend against Philadelphia.

Mar 30, 2014; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Lloyd Sam (10) advances the ball against the Chivas USA at Red Bull Arena. Game ended in a 1-1 tie. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

The real problem for the Red Bulls has been in the back line where a combination of the injuries and flat out poor performances have led New York to leak like a sieve. Jamison Olave is starting to regain his form after an injury ridden start to the season, however he has not been able to establish a solid central pairing as the second center spot has rotated between Sekagya and Armando. The full backs for New York have been poor as well.

Petke has had New York playing in a 4-4-2 all season long which should be beneficial to the Dynamo. Houston has been at its best this season when facing a 4-4-2 type of a system. Word out of New York is that Bradley Wright-Phillips may not be able to play despite not appearing on the injury report. With Cahill unavailable, Petke might pair Henry with Péguy Luyindula.

Alternatively, Petke could take a lesson from what has worked well against the Dynamo this season and opt to go with five in the midfield to try and limit the Dynamo ability to play the ball through their own midfield.

Houston Dynamo (2-3-1), 7 points, 7th Place

The good news for the Dynamo is that both Ricardo Clark and Andrew Driver, who left the match against Philadelphia early, look ready to play. As a result, the Dynamo will likely line up with the exact same midfield that they have done in the past two matches.

Sunday’s match showed that if given the time and space, even without Brad Davis in the lineup the Dynamo could create opportunities. Just in case Driver cannot go a full 90 minutes, Brian Ownby has been recalled from his loan at Pittsburgh.

The issue the Dynamo have is converting opportunities. The partnership of Will Bruin and Giles Barnes has not been working; given a short week it is possible we might finally see Omar Cummings in the starting lineup. The last time he faced New York he was knocking them out of the playoffs last season.

The defense once again becomes a concern with Sarkodie suspended. Given that Anthony Arena was not recalled from Pittsburgh, it looks likely that Warren Creavalle will get the start at right back. While Creavalle has been steady at right back in the past, this does increase the pressure on David Horst to keep up his strong performance.


Given New York’s tactical set-up and their ongoing roster issues, this match should more closely resemble the 1st half than the 2nd half of Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. Fatigue could become an issue for the

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Dynamo in the 2nd half as they will be playing on only a few days rest while New York has not played in a week.

The Dynamo were able to generate scoring opportunities against Philadelphia but could not convert. Against New York, the quality of those opportunities should increase and I believe the Dynamo are finally due to put one into the back of the net.

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  • On the other end of the pitch, Henry is always dangerous and needs to be watched closely. The absence of Cahill plays into the Dynamo hands, though. If Luyindula starts at forward in place of Wright-Phillips then that is even more beneficial for the Dynamo. If Taylor plays as he did on Saturday and with Horst in the lineup and looking strong, the Dynamo should be able to keep another clean sheet.

    I see the Dynamo coming away from New York with a hard fought 1-0 win.

    Injury Report

    New York – Andre Akpan (out), Bobby Convey (out), Richard Eckersley (out), Marius Obekop (out), Tim Cahill (questionable)

    Houston – Eric Brunner (out), Brad Davis (doubtful)

    Disciplinary Report

    New York – Ibrahim Sekagya

    Houston – Kofi Sarkodie

    Projected Lineups

    New York – GK – Robles; Def – Kimura, Olave, Armando, Miller; Mid – Sam, McCarty, Alexander, Steele; Fwd – Luyindula, Henry

    Houston – GK – Hall; Def – Creavalle, Horst, Taylor, Ashe; Mid – Driver, Clark, Garcia, Cascio; Fwd – Bruin, Cummings

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