First Look: Houston Dynamo

Six weeks after handing the Revolution a humbling 4-0 season-opening defeat in Houston, the Dynamo make their way to Gillette Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 5:00pm.

Saturday’s match will feature a pair of teams looking to rebound from uninspiring performances last week. A 2-0 Revolution loss granted the D.C. United their first win in league play since last summer, while the Dynamo are coming off a bitter 4-1 loss to in-state rival FC Dallas.

With neither side lacking motivation this week, here are a few things you need to know about the second meeting of the season between the Revolution and Dynamo.

1. Houston has a problem. The Dynamo will enter Saturday’s contest without two veteran center backs, and possibly, Brad Davis. First things first: center back David Horst was red carded in the 60th minute against Dallas, and will serve his one-game suspension this week. The defense suffered another blow on Monday when the club announced that Horst’s backup – Eric Brunner – will miss the next eight weeks due to a right ankle injury. Coincidentally, Brunner was competing with Horst for the spot next to Jermaine Taylor during the preseason, before Brunner injured his ankle in the preseason finale vs. Charleston (USL-PRO). As for Davis, who had to leave last weekend’s game at halftime after Je-Vaughn Watson stepped on his right foot, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear called his skipper’s status “day-to-day.”

2. Another aerial war ahead. It should come as no surprise that a team as deadly as the Dynamo on set pieces is a force in the air – and that’s certainly the case in this year. Through their first four contests of the season, the Dynamo lead the Conference with an average of 21.3 aerial duels won per game. Only the Earthquakes – which the Revolution outlasted in a 2-1 victory two weeks ago – have won more aerial duels (26.7) per game this year.

3. Precision will be at a premium. The Revolution and Dynamo enter Saturday’s tied for sixth in shots (62) this season, but the number of looks on goal are where the similarities end for the former postseason rivals. While the Dynamo average 5.8 shots on target per game – good for third place in MLS, the Revolution, with only 2.8 shots on target per game, are dead last in the league. If the Revolution are going to pull off the win this weekend, their aim must improve dramatically, or they’ll have to bottle up the likes of Will Bruin, Giles Barnes and Ricardo Clark – something they struggled to do six weeks ago.

4. Jay Heaps will have to live vicariously through assistant Tom Soehn. After he was ejected in the 90th minute of last week’s game in D.C., Jay Heaps will not be in the Revolution technical area this weekend. With Heaps suspended, assistant Tom Soehn will guide the local XI against the Dynamo. Soehn has four years of MLS head coaching experience, leading D.C. United to a Supporters’ Shield finish in 2007. Also worth noting: the last time Soehn coached against Houston, which came in 2011 with the Whitecaps, he beat them 1-0.

Stat of concern from last week: Diego Fagundez’s 22 passes against D.C. was the fewest among Revolution field players who went the full 90.

Early weather forecast: 59 degrees, with a 30 percent chance of rain. (Source: weather.com)

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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com