D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen wants his team “to be greedy.” It is Olsen’s way of saying that there is no time or room to stop and feel satisfied by a four-game winning streak. United’s ability to be greedy and extend its winning streak will be put to a unique challenge Sunday in Houston (8 p.m. on CSN).
It is a unique challenge for the Black and Red because they have never won in Houston since the team started play as the Dynamo in 2006 after moving from San Jose. United have lost nine of ten games played in Houston in two stadiums in league and cup play. Opened in 2012 the Dynamo’s home is BBVA Compass Stadium, but United’s only point was secured in a 0-0 draw at Robertson Stadium in 2008.
For United the match against the Dynamo will be its second game in a stretch of eight games over 33 days. With Sporting Kansas City only managing a 1-1 draw Friday at home to Philadelphia, United is only two points out of first place and has played two fewer games. If United finds a way to its first ever win in Houston, the Black and Red are back in first place.
1. Dealing with the “new Dynamo”. On paper United and the Dynamo are at the opposite end of the MLS spectrum. United has won five of six games. The Dynamo has not won since May 17 or to put another way since Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia departed for the World Cup. Boniek Garcia and Davis have been back together in the Dynamo’s lineup the last three games and the team responded with two draws including last Saturday on the road against Toronto. Davis has scored three goals during that span. Now the Dynamo is set to debut two more World Cup veterans against United. Left back DaMarcus Beasley has been cleared to play after his transfer from Mexican side Puebla. In Brazil Beasley was one of the more dangerous players for the United States. The Dynamo has also picked up Honduran National Team midfielder Luis Garrido on loan from Olimpia of Honduras. Dynamo head coach Dominc Kinnear described Garrido as a player with “a good amount of bite in the middle of the field, good energy and is a good passer of the ball.” Houston has a talent level better than its current ninth place standing and will be eager to prove it.
2. Managing success. United is in a groove right now. Eddie Johnson has come alive and is more connected or it could be said his teammates have found a way to connect with him. Either way it is working. Sunday will be United’s second game in five days and it will be a test for a team that relies heavily on the veteran legs of Chris Rolfe and Davy Arnaud. The one-sided 3-0 result over Toronto on Wednesday allowed Olsen to substitute both Rolfe and Arnaud in the second half. Conor Doyle, Jared Jeffrey and Lewis Neal will need to continue to be ready to make a difference off the bench. Flank play will be important with United looking to make Davis and Boniek Garcia work on defense.