Preview: Crew vs. Dynamo

Crew look to keep coasting against visiting Dynamo

The basics

Columbus
Crew
(9-3-4, 31 points; 1st in Eastern Conference) vs. Houston
Dynamo
(5-7-4, 19 points; 6th in Western Conference)

All-time series: Tied at 2-2-5. Crew lead 2-1-1 in Columbus.

TV info

7:30 p.m., ET; Direct Kick, MatchDay Live

What's at stake?

It's been more than two months without an MLS win for the Dynamo, who
head into Crew Stadium riding a six-game winless streak in league play.
That streak includes a scoreless draw at Robertson Stadium against the
Crew on July 10. The Crew want to end a three-game homestand on a
positive note before traveling to Chivas USA, Philadelphia and Real
Salt Lake
.

Columbus Crew news

With defender Frankie Hejduk (red-card
suspension) and MF Brian Carroll (right-ankle sprain) out expect
a shuffled lineup. Adam Moffat practiced at right back and rookie
defender Shaun Francis could see
action. Forward Emilio Renteria will get
an encore performance after scoring against New York last week. Said
Carroll on this week's matchup with Houston: “It’s a solid team top to
bottom and whether you play them home or away it’s just a tough game.”

Houston Dynamo news

Saturday will mark the Dynamo's seventh match this month, including
the US Open Cup and SuperLiga. Their physical and hard-fought (12 cards,
35 fouls) 1-0 win against Mexico’s Puebla in the SuperLiga on Wednesday
(12 cards, 35 fouls) gave the Dynamo a 2-1-3 record in all July games.
The match also marks the debut for former New England standout Steve
Ralston, who joined the coaching staff as an assistant after John
Spencer left last week. Said midfielder Brad Davis: “He’s been a great ambassador to this
league and a great player and I think he’s got a great soccer mind.”

Heroes & villains

Houston forward Brian Ching v. Crew defender Chad Marshall: Next week they will
be All-Star teammates against Manchester United, but Saturday they will
be locked in a duel that could decide the match. Ching is probably still
wondering how he missed an open look against the Crew in the last
meeting, while Marshall has overcome a stretch of injuries and is in the
running for a third straight MLS Defender of the Year award.

Stat that makes you go “Hmm”:

Expect the flags to go up early and often. Houston’s 62 offsides lead
the league. Columbus (59) are second.