It was not so long ago that the Houston Dynamo and LA Galxy were front and center in discussions of the 2013 CONCACAF Champions League contenders.
Dominic Kinnear’s Dynamo had a 1-0 lead in the March two-legged quarterfinal series against Mexico’s Santos, still with plenty of work ahead but needing only a draw to advance.
Things fell apart down in Torreon, Mexico, however, as they have done so many times for MLS sides. Santos prevailed, 3-0, and the men in Dynamo orange were left to absorb the sting (and hopefully the lessons) of opportunity lost.
L.A. went even further in the annual, regional club competition, reaching a semifinal series against Monterrey. Bruce Arena’s team stacked a lot of emotional eggs into that CCL basket but still fell by a 3-1 aggregate result to the eventual champs.
The Dynamo and Galaxy hope to put those teachings to good use tonight as they join Champions League play.
Houston meets W Connection from Trinidad and Tobago’s TT Pro League. The match kicks off at 9 p.m. CT on Fox Sports 1.
Bruce Arena’s Galaxy host Costa Rican club Cartaginés at the StubHub Center. Kickoff for that one, on Fox Sports Plus, is set for 10 p.m. ET.
Houston and L.A. are the fourth and fifth MLS teams to begin their part of Champions League play, joining Sporting Kansas City, San Jose and Montreal, all of whom launched their accounts last week.
I’ve been touting the Dynamo’s midfield depth all year; it will get a test now, having played in the Houston heat on Saturday and with a match coming up in Canada this weekend against Montreal. That’s three matches in three countries over eight days, if you’re counting.
Calen Carr and Andrew Driver (pictured) are nearing full fitness, so that will surely help. Dynamo veteran Brian Ching, for one, certainly sounds confident.
Depending on the lineup Arena chooses, his team should handle Cartagines, a team without many trophies in the case.