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Preview: D.C. United v Houston Dynamo

The Black-and-Red play host to a travel-weary Houston team

D.C. United will host the Houston Dynamo tomorrow, May 8 (7 p.m.; Comcast SportsNet Plus / NewsChannel 8) after opening its season on the road against the Orange in a 2-0 loss on March 2.

Two months ago, United faced a Houston team that hadn’t lost in its new stadium—and still hasn’t, claiming an MLS record 36-game home unbeaten streak. The Black-and-Red entered BBVA Compass stadium with high hopes, coming off a successful 2012 season. The Dynamo, though, prevailed in a hard fought battle, with the goals coming in the last ten minutes. United defender James Riley had an own goal in the 80th and Houston’s Ricardo Clark found the back of the net in the 89th.

Having just beaten the LA Galaxy 1-0 at the Home Depot Center late Sunday night, the Dynamo has had two days to rest and recuperate from battling the 2012 MLS Cup winners for 90 hard minutes. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall guessed right on a Landon Donovan penalty shot in the 25th minute and saved the veteran forward’s attempt. The Dynamo goal came early in the second half (56’) from the left boot of midfielder Andrew Driver. Driver beat Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini low, near post, and LA couldn’t find the equalizer.

The Black-and-Red traveled to Columbus last Saturday, April 27, and dropped the game 3-0, with all three goals coming in the first half. After a one-hour delay for a never-before-seen scoreboard fire, Dominic Oduro found the net in the 15th minute, followed 11 minutes later by a goal, courtesy of Josh Williams. Just three minutes before halftime, 2012 Newcomer of the Year Federico Higuain made it three.

“We know we’re better than what we’re doing,” said United center back Brandon McDonald. “We have a strong belief in our locker room that we have the guys that can get it done— we have to put it together for 90 minutes.”

United seems to have some things working in its favor for tomorrow night. The Houston Dynamo, having just traveled across the country to RFK, has had very little rest after playing a 2nd-placed Western Conference side in LA late Sunday night.

“We truly do believe that we can turn this around,” said United midfielder Nick DeLeon. “And [against] Houston—this is a good chance to do it… This is our time to turn that streak around.”

Meanwhile, the Black-and-Red had last weekend off, taking time get in extra training and rehabilitation for the injured players. United’s 2012 breakout players, Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon, have both been upgraded to questionable in the injury report for the match. DeLeon, 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year runner-up, has been sidelined since March 23 with a hamstring strain.

“He’s healthy,” said Head Coach Ben Olsen on DeLeon. “I think he is ready for the 18.”

Olsen seems a little less sure of 2012 MLS Best XI midfielder Pontius, who strained his groin and missed the team’s last trip to Columbus. Pontius remains under evaluation due to the quick turnaround between tomorrow and Saturday’s trip to Dallas.

But, as both McDonald and DeLeon asserted, the team believes they have what it takes to win tomorrow night.