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Preview: United vs Houston

Saturday's meeting is the first of three between two teams that know each other well

MLS MATCHDAY 9

D.C. United vs Houston Dynamo

Saturday, April 28 - 7:30 PM ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet (CSN) Washington

If the Houston Dynamo are any worse for thewear that comes with opening a season with seven straight road contests, D.C.United's Saturday evening opponents aren't showing it.  Having lost just once while they await the completion oftheir new stadium, the Dynamo are displaying the remarkable consistency thatpropelled Houston to the MLS Cup final a year ago.

While that same trait - consistency - escapedthe Black-and-Red in 2011, United have gone six straight unbeaten since themiddle of March.  D.C. enters thisweekend's tilt with high expectations after dismantling New York a week ago,and - with the club in second place in the Eastern Conference - United arepoised to begin chipping away at the nine-point gap between the Black-and-Redand first-place Kansas City. Though an easy victory over the Red Bulls gave Ben Olsen's side confidence, it admittedly didn't prepare them for Saturday's impending dogfight.

"Houston is going to be a very different opponent than New York," confirmed captain Dwayne De Rosario, who played for the Dynamo from 2006-2008. "They are definitely a lot more physical, and they battle and scrap for every ball. [It's] another in-conference team, so another big three points are sitting there for us."

If United is to take full points on Saturday, the Black-and-Red must dominate one area in particular.  In a trend on display when the two teams squared off last season, the Dynamo are known for their excellence on set pieces. Of the six goals Houston scored on D.C. in 2011, half came via dead ball situations (including two in a 4-1 Houston win at Robertson Stadium).

"They are obviously very good at set pieces," defender Emiliano Dudar acknowledged in a Spanish language interview earlier this week. "We can't commit dumb fouls, those unnecessary fouls that will put is in a bad spot. When we are defending a set piece, we just have to commit to finding a mark and not losing it. We are professionals, so we can handle that responsibility."

Saturday's meeting is the first of threebetween two conference foes that should know each other extremely well. D.C. midfielder Danny Cruz arrived inWashington via a January trade from Houston while Dynamo defender Bobby Boswellplayed the first three seasons of his MLS career in black and red.  Even United's coaching staff has a hintor orange in it, as assistant Pat Onstad served the final five seasons of hisdecorated playing career in Houston.

No one, however, has had a bigger impact on thetwo rival franchises than the aforementioned De Rosario.  Like Onstad, DeRo won back-to-back MLSCup titles with the Dynamo in 2006 and 2007.  Those in orange haven't forgotten De Rosario's specialtalents, and are preparing for an inspired performance from the reigning MLSMVP.     

"He is a guy we know that is crafty and a guy that definitelysteps up in big games," said Houston forward Brian Ching.  "I think you'll see this weekend,he'll [want to] have a pretty good game against his former team."

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 Saturday night at RFKStadium.  Saturday will be D.C.United’s 13th annual Armed Forces and Veterans Appreciation Day anddiscounted tickets are still available.

» ANALYSIS: Breaking down Houston Dynamo

» Create and share your starting XI

REFEREE: Juan Guzman. MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 6; pens: 2
SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Craig Lowry; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic

INJURY REPORT:

  • D.C. UNITED - OUT: DF Ethan White (R knee surgery); MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: MF Kurt Morsink (L foot neurectomy); FW Josh Wolff (L hamstring strain); DF Dejan Jakovic (L ankle sprain)
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: FW Brian Ownby (L elbow dislocation); FW Colin Rolfe (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Brad Davis (L calf strain); DF Corey Ashe (L hamstring strain); DF Warren Creavalle (L ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: HOU: Colin Clark (through April 28)

WARNINGS:

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Maicon Santos

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (12 meetings): United 3 wins, 12 goals ... Dynamo 7 wins, 20 goals ... Ties 2
  • AT RFK (6 meetings): United 3 wins, 8 goals ... Dynamo 2 wins, 8 goals ... Ties 1
  • RETURN MATCHES: 5/12: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN); 7/15: Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. CT (Galavision)
  • LAST YEAR (MLS):
    • 4/29: HOU 4, DC 1 (Bruin 4, 41, 57; Weaver 62 - Burch 39)
    • 6/25: DC 2, HOU 2 (Pontius 31; Davies 73 - Davis 41; Ching 89)
  • The Dynamo haven't lost to D.C. United since a 1-0 defeat April 4, 2009 at RFK Stadium. The Dynamo won the next four meetings, including a 4-1 win last year at Robertson Stadium, before the clubs played to a 2-2 draw last June 25 in Washington.
  • The Dynamo have taken points on their last two trips to RFK Stadium. They have also won in a SuperLiga game (2008), as well as MLS Cup 2007.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen v HOU: P3 W0 L2 D1 ... Dominic Kinnear vs. DC: P17 W8 L5 D4