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Houston Dynamo vs. Columbus Crew SC | MLS Match Preview

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs COLUMBUS CREW SC
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
March 7, 2015 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #4)
7:30 p.m. CT (ROOT-HOU; TWC-OH)

Separated into different conferences for the 2015 season, the Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew SC meet for the only time this season when the clubs open the new campaign against each other on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo have a new coach for the first time in club history, Owen Coyle aiming to lead back to the MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out last year. Gregg Berhalter brought the Crew back to the postseason in his first season in charge a year ago, finishing third in the Eastern Conference, 13 points ahead of Houston.

REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Jeff Muschik; AR2 (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Younes Marrakchi
MLS Career: 50 games; FC/gm: 22.6; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 12; pens: 19

SUSPENDED: CLB: Justin Meram (through March 8)
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (20 meetings): Dynamo 4 wins, 22 goals … Crew 6 wins, 28 goals … Ties 10
AT HOUSTON (10 meetings): Dynamo 3 wins, 13 goals … Crew 1 win, 10 goals … Ties 6

LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/7: HOU 1, CLB 0 (Bruin 50)
8/23: CLB 3, HOU 0 (Meram 35; Bedell 59; Schoenfeld 64)
9/13: HOU 2, CLB 2 (own goal 12; Barnes 38 – Trapp 48; Finlay 54)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The teams split their three meetings a year ago. The Dynamo won 1-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Crew won 3-0 in Columbus, and the teams reached a 2-2 draw, also in Houston.
  • The road team has not won in the series since 2011, when the Crew claimed a 2-0 victory at Robertson Stadium in Houston. It is one of just two wins for the away team all-time in 20 meetings between the clubs.
  • The Crew have not lost to the Dynamo in Columbus since June 10, 2007, a 2-1 Houston victory. Since then, the Crew have won five of the eight meetings at home, with three draws.
  • Coaches record: Owen Coyle vs. CLB: first game … Gregg Berhalter vs. HOU: P3 W1 L1 T1

HOUSTON DYNAMO
Under a new head coach for the first time in the club’s history, the Houston Dynamo are looking to return to the MLS Cup Playoffs after missing out last year for the first time since 2010. Owen Coyle is the new man in charge, after the Dynamo finished in eighth place with 39 points in their final campaign under Dominic Kinnear.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Dynamo claimed the championship of the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C., with a 3-0 victory against Orlando City SC in Saturday’s title match.
  • Here’s the Dynamo team: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, David Horst, Jermaine Taylor (AJ Cochran 72), DaMarcus Beasley (Alexander López 76); Leonel Miranda (Bryan Moya 76), Luis Garrido (Nathan Sturgis 66), Ricardo Clark (Zach Steinberger 70), Brad Davis (Rob Lovejoy 43); Boniek García (Chandler Hoffman 74), Will Bruin (Jason Johnson 66)
  • Brad Davis scored his second goal of the preseason, while Boniek García assisted on two goals and won a penalty after netting his first of the preseason earlier in the tourney.
  • “It is something we are trying to encourage,” Dynamo boss Owen Coyle said. “We have Brad (Davis) and Boniek (Garcia) and sometimes they like to come in off the touchline and if they do then there is space for the fullbacks to join in on the play. That can only happen when the strikers have secured possession and bring them into play and the first goal is a good example of that. The ball comes up to Will Bruin and he takes a nice touch and lays it off and the fullbacks can join in.”
  • For the final preparation match ahead of the season opener, Coyle made two changes to his starting team, with David Horst and Leonel Miranda in the side in place of Raul Rodriguez and Alex Lopez.
  • “Raul felt a twinge in his hamstring and immediately we weren’t taking any chances. He got up Thursday and feels slightly better, so he has something there that tweaked that, so that is something we will look to make sure we manage,” Coyle said.
  • The Dynamo defeated expansion side New York City FC 2-1 in their only match against MLS competition in the Carolina Challenge Cup. Earlier in the preseason, the Dynamo defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the San Jose Earthquakes and reached a draw with the Portland Timbers in the Desert Friendlies in Tucson, Ariz.
  • “We’ve had a good preseason, we understand that, playing against a number of MLS teams – but that was preparation,” Coyle said. “Now it starts for real and that’s what we’ve got to build on. But we have a good group, very hard-working, very conscientious and talented and when we bring that together we feel they’re a group that can compete … we feel that we can stand toe-to-toe [with anyone] and win games.”

TRANSACTIONS IN: MF Memo Rodriguez (Homegrown); GK Joe Willis (trade from DC); FW Chandler Hoffman (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft); MF Nathan Sturgis (Re-Entry Stage 2 Draft); FW Erick Torres (transfer from Chivas Guadalajara, currently on loan); MF Leonel Miranda (loan from Independiente); DF Raul Rodriguez (free); MF Zach Steinberger (SuperDraft); DF Oumar Ballo (SuperDraft); DF Taylor Hunter (SuperDraft); MF Rob Lovejoy (SuperDraft)

TRANSACTIONS OUT: DF Eric Brunner (retired); DF Anthony Arena (option declined); FW Omar Cummings (option declined); FW Brian Ownby (option declined); FW Bryan Salazar (option declined); MF Servando Carrasco (out of contract); MF Andrew Driver (traded to DC); GK Tally Hall (traded to Orlando City); FW Mark Sherrod (Expansion Draft to Orlando City)

COLUMBUS CREW SC
In his first season in charge of Columbus Crew SC a year ago, Gregg Berhalter led the club to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011 following a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference. The Crew saw their run come up short in the conference semifinals against eventual MLS Cup finalist New England, after recording 52 points during the regular season.

TEAM NEWS

  • Crew SC ended their preseason slate with a 4-1 win against Oklahoma City Energy FC of the USL in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic in Bradenton, Fla, taking third place in the competition.
  • Kei Kamara netted his fourth goal of the preseason and set up another, while Kristinn Steindorsson, Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain all netted goals for Crew SC.
  • Here’s the Crew team: Steve Clark; Hector Jimenez, Michael Parkhurst, Emanuel Pogatetz, Waylon Francis (Kalen Ryden 54'); Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani; Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Kristinn Steindorsson (Justin Meram 72'); Kei Kamara
  • “The guys worked hard,” Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “It’s been a long, long trip, but the guys maintained concentration. That’s what was most important to see, that we kept focus the whole game. Maybe bits and pieces that weren’t there, but I think overall it was a good team performance.”
  • Young midfielder Romain Gall missed out on the final preseason contest, after returning to Columbus to have a knee sprain assessed. Fullback Waylon Francis suffered what Berhalter termed a slight hamstring injury and was forced off the field early in the second half.
  • Crew SC faced MLS opposition once in the Bradenton event, reaching a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union before losing on penalty kicks in a match to decide the group winner. Earlier in the preseason, Crew SC lost 3-1 at FC Dallas in their only other contest against an MLS side.

TRANSACTIONS IN: FW Kei Kamara (allocation); MF Ben Swanson (Homegrown); MF Mohammed Saeid (free); MF Kristin Steindorsson (free); DF Chris Klute (trade from Colorado); DF Hernan Grana (free); MF Cedrick Mabwati (transfer from Real Betis, arrives in July)

TRANSACTIONS OUT: MF Fifi Baiden (option declined); DF Ross Friedman (option declined); MF Daniel Paladini (option declined); MF Agustin Viana (option declined); MF Matt Walker (option declined); DF Matt Wiet (option declined); DF Josh Williams (traded to NYCFC); MF Bernardo Anor (traded to KC); FW Jairo Arrieta (Expansion Draft to Orlando City); DF Eric Gehrig (Expansion Draft to Orlando City); DF Ben Sweat (waived)

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