Houston Dynamo (5-10-5, 20 points, seventh in Western Conference) vs. Chicago Fire (6-5-6, 24 points, fourth in Eastern Conference)
All-time record: Houston lead the series 5-3-1.
8:30 p.m. ET; KHOU 11.2, TV Informa (local); Direct Kick, MatchDay Live
The Dynamo are coming off a gritty but deflating 1-0 road loss to the New England Revolution last weekend. Geoff Cameron returned to defense and stabilized a struggling Houston back line and midfielder Anthony Obodai played his best game since his acquisition. However, it wasn’t enough as a poor shot on goal ended up at the wrong spot and at the wrong time for the Dynamo.
Chicago enter the match fresh off a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night against New England. New acquisition Nery Castillo got his first start for the Fire since his acquisition, but it was Calen Carr, playing his first game of the season, who scored the game-winner late.
Both teams met earlier in the year in a match Cameron would soon like to forget. He left the game in the 30th minute after suffering a torn ligament in his knee, and the Fire went on to win 2-0 on goals from Baggio Husidic and Peter Lowry.
Houston haven't defeated an MLS team since May 22. While the team took several steps in the right direction in the team’s last match against New England, the Dynamo’s fading playoff hopes took a big blow with recent losses to both the Seattle Sounders and the Revolution. If Houston have any hopes of climbing back into the race, a victory at home against a team ahead of them in the standings would go a long way.
It seems likely that Corey Ashe and Adrian Serioux will both be unavailable for Houston, as they were unable to participate fully in Thursday’s practice. Brad Davis will likely be a game-time decision as well, leaving Houston scrambling in midfield.
While Freddie Ljungberg and Castillo will get most of the headlines, the reacquisition of Gonzalo Segares quietly solidified the Fire in the back. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s play of late has also been impressive, as the young ‘keeper has made several acrobatic saves, including a couple against the Revolution.
With the midweek game and travel, the Fire may have difficulty coping with the Houston humidity. As a result, Chicago’s ability to deal early with the high-pressure game Houston employ at home may go a long way to decide whether the Fire can steal any points on the road.
Heroes & Villains
Brian Ching vs. Wilman Conde: The usually reliable Conde made a mistake against the Revs, as he slipped and turned the ball over resulting in an early New England goal. Ching and the entire Dynamo offense has struggled of late, but that may be due more to the lack of quality service into Ching rather than the Dynamo forward’s own capabilities. Still, the Hawaiian frequently provides an outlet for Houston, and Conde will have to work hard to limit the forward's effectiveness for the Fire to get three points.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”
Houston have just two shots on goal in their last two games.