I hear what young Houston Dynamo scoring star Will Bruin is thinking when talks about the recent Sporting Kansas City return-leg match, how the similar circumstances have helped prepare his team for what lies ahead Sunday at RFK Stadium.
But, I’m not entirely sure he really wants to make this comparison.
In fact, we could ask if there’s really much of a comparison at all, other than the obvious, that Houston comes into enemy territory hoping to protect a two-goal lead over 90 minutes.
Here’s what Bruin said during Thursday’s national teleconference … then I will explain:
I think the Kansas City game prepared us well and now we know what to expect. They’re trying to get guys back from injury as soon as possible, so we expect everybody to come out and play and they’re going to be throwing numbers at us.”
Houston took a two-goal margin into its second leg conference semifinal last week at Sporting Kansas City – and survived. The thing is, Houston dealt only adequately with that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach at Livestrong Sporting Park. In truth, if Sporting KC had registered anything north of “pitiful” on the finishing scale, the men in orange would be looking for things to do this weekend rather than preparing for a major match at RFK Stadium.
As this story points out, Kansas City did a lot right in the match, but suffered from the misfortune of a bad matchup. SKC directed 20 shots toward Houston goal and served 31 crosses, not including free kicks and corner kicks. Those crosses, the bedrock of SKC’s attack, were gobbled up like Christmas cookies by Dynamo center backs Bobby Boswell and Andrew Hainault. What they didn’t consume, big goalkeeper Tally Hall did.
But United’s attack will look absolutely nothing like that Sunday. They will play first through Branko Boskovic and through the driving runs of Chris Pontius, always looking to get behind the big Houston center backs (as they did a couple of times in Sunday’s first leg, a 3-1 Houston win.) At some point, they are likely to play through Dwayne De Rosario, who seems set to get back on the field at some point of Sunday’s contest. (Kickoff: 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
Boswell and Hainault are well within their comfort zone anytime they can sit back and look for crosses. They are far, far less comfy-cozy when they need to draw a high line or when they get drawn out of the middle (as Boswell was on United’s goal in that previous contest.)
Knowing Dominic Kinnear, Houston will be prepared. I’m just not sure how much they can cite last week’s result at Kansas City as evidence.