The Houston Dynamo sit one point ahead of D.C. United in MLS' Eastern Conference standings as the two prepare to meet on East Capitol Street Saturday night (Houston is in 4th and United are in 5th, though the Black-and-Red have two games in hand). Each team has won just one match in its last five, but Saturday night's combatants sit just three and four points behind the Columbus Crew for third place in the Eastern Conference standings and an automatic spot in the MLS playoffs. So, a lot's on the line on Saturday at RFK.
D.C. United (4-5-5) vs. Houston Dynamo (4-6-6)
When: 6:00 p.m., Saturday, June 25.
Where: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
TV: Comcast SportsNet, Telefutura (Spanish).
Team News and Tactics
D.C. United: The injury situation remains unchanged from last week for D.C. United (Boskovic, Burch, Jakovic, McTavish, Ngwenya, and Quaranta are all still out with various ailments), so the gameday roster should remain the same as last week against Real Salt Lake. The big lineup question that Ben Olsen faces is in central midfield. Clyde Simms and Stephen King started there last Saturday, but were removed as the game went on in favor of Dax McCarty and Fred, respectively. It seems likely that McCarty will come back into the starting XI tonight, but whether Olsen keeps faith with one of Simms or King or hands Fred a start is very much an open question. Another question is whether Olsen keeps faith with the Josh Wolff/Blake Brettschneider partnership up front or if the United gaffer feels Charlie Davies has earned a renewed place in the starting lineup. All will be revealed tonight.
Houston: The Dynamo will have to make one enforced change to their lineup as Lovel Palmer serves a one-game suspension after being sent off in last weekend's 2-0 home loss to Columbus. The most likely adjustment for Dominic Kinnear would be to shift Geoff Cameron back into Palmer's central defensive midfield position while JeVaughn Watson, back from Gold Cup duty with Jamaica, slides into the central attacking role. It will be interesting to see what role Brian Ching plays for Houston, as he's started just one of Houston's 18 games this season. Jermaine Taylor, Houston's other Jamaica Gold Cup returnee, is likely to start this match on the bench.
Key to the Game
No repeat of San Jose: Houston has been shut out in three of their last four road games. To say their offense is struggling is to be polite. With a chance to leapfrog the Dynamo in the standings and a healthy Jed Zayner in the lineup, there's not a lot of excuses for the D.C. United back line to experience a repeat of their disappointing performance in their last home match, a disappointing 4-2 loss to San Jose June 11.