Ever since the Sounders FC came to MLS in 2009, they have had a great battle going against the Houston Dynamo.
The Sounders FC is very familiar with the defending Eastern Conference champion Dynamo, having played against Houston nine times in three seasons across all competitions. In those nine matches, which have left players battered and bloodied at times and just plain spent others, Seattle has won three, Houston has won three and they have drawn three times. All while both teams have scored ten goals.
“They’re a team that, for us, is a little more of a difficult matchup because of the way they play and the way we play,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a little bit different, so it always leads to games that are a little bit not the norm and a little bit more competitive.”
Their trio of big-bodied forwards – Brian Ching, Will Bruin and Cam Weaver – combined for 14 goals in 2011, with Ching and Bruin joining defenders Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell as the club’s top scorers with five goals each.
With 2011 MVP candidate Brad Davis providing service to the tune of 16 assists last season, the opportunities are plentiful for Houston, particularly when they earn set-pieces in the attacking third.
Even with a skill-player like Davis, though, they have earned a reputation as one of the most physical teams in Major League Soccer.
“They’re a very unique team in that respect,” said defender Patrick Ianni, who played three seasons with the Dynamo before coming to the Sounders in 2009. “They are the physical team in our league. They can still play, but they seem to get that rap. They are hard-nosed, hard-working guys and very disciplined as well.”
Midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and defender Jermaine Taylor both played with Jamaica on Wednesday night in a friendly against Costa Rica.
If Watson can’t start, Kinnear has the option to play the likes of Luiz Camargo or former Sounder Nathan Sturgis. Camargo started six matches to close out the 2011 season for Houston and the Dynamo went 4-0-2 in that stretch, then made a run to the MLS Cup Final behind his strong midfield play.
Kofi Sarkodie is also away with the US U-23 National Team at the Olympic qualifying tournament.
But regardless of who is in the lineup for the Dynamo, Seattle knows they can expect a difficult match-up.
“There’s always a lot of fight in that team,” midfielder Roger Levesque said. “Regardless of what kind of game it is, it’s going to be a battle. That’s what we’re preparing for.”
This is the third match in a stretch of seven straight road matches for the Dynamo, who are finishing construction on BBVA Compass Stadium, where they will open the home calendar on May 12 against DC United.
The strenuous travel to start the season doesn’t seem to get under their skin though. They opened the season with a stoppage-time winner by Andre Hainault in a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA, then topped the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0, getting the lone goal on a first-half penalty.
“You look at their team and they’re a veteran team. There’s a real veteran group there,” Schmid said. “Dominic’s team—they’re all on the same page in terms of what they’re doing and how they’re playing. As a result of that, they feel really confident in their style and they feel very confident in their ability to get results.”
Kickoff is slated for 7 pm Pacific Time at CenturyLink Field. The match will be televised live on NBC Sports, with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.