The two Western Conference clubs faced each other back in April in the Lone Star State. The LA Galaxy traveled to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on the 15th and enjoyed their most comfortable road win of the season yet.
The Dynamo started the game on fire by taking the lead within the first minute of the game from a goal by David Horst. However, Giovani Dos Santos and the rest of the Galaxy responded by scoring three goals before the half ended.
The Mexican World Cup veteran scored two goals in the first half to send the visitors with a commanding 3-1 lead into the halftime break. Los Angeles went on to score the fourth goal just four minutes into the second half. Dos Santos began the play and US international Gyasi Zardes finished it to secure the 4-1 road victory.
Now the two clubs head to LA and the Galaxy will be searching to earn their third consecutive victory on Friday.
The Galaxy enters this game in good form
LA has not lost a match since June 18th when Toronto FC defeated the Galaxy by a narrow 1-0 margin at BMO Field in Canada. Since that match, the five-time MLS Cup Champions have drawn twice and won two matches. The defense of the Galaxy has all stepped up, only allowing one goal through this unbeaten run.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Chad Barrett was the last person to score against LA when he struck on June 25th in a 1-1 draw at Stanford Stadium. Their current two-game win streak has seen them shut out both the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Seattle Sounders FC.
Los Angeles will be facing the current last-place team in the West on Friday and anything else but three points will be a disappointment.
The Dynamo's defense has struggled to contain teams this season; in 18 matches played they have allowed 25 goals. They currently have a -2 goal differential thus far this Major League Soccer campaign. Not to mention Houston has yet to win a match on the road this year.
LA's stars must shine in Carson
The defense of the Galaxy will be entering this match without two stars. Robbie Rogers is still recovering from an ankle surgery and now Ashley Cole will miss this match due to a hamstring injury. Plus youngster forward Ariel Lassiter has been listed as questionable due to a back injury.
With the defense at less than a hundred percent, the offense will need to step up and apply pressure to Houston's vulnerable back line. With the midfield in control of the game, the defense can become more involved with the attack and eventually break through and score a few goals in the process.
Dos Santos, Zardes, and captain Robbie Keane will need to be active on the attack, forcing the Dynamo to only concentrate on the defense. The three of them and other Galaxy players will need to test the Dynamo's defense and goalkeeper on a constant basis. The midfield will play a vital role in the attack being aggressive, they will need to control the possession and orchestrate the attack.
Steven Gerrard will need to connect Zardes, Dos Santos, and Keane with the offense. That will only happen with Jeff Larentowicz and Baggio Husidic controlling the midfield and allowing the Galaxy to build up a rhythm.
Once again Larentowicz and Husidic will have to be the enforcers of the midfield since Nigel De Jong's suspension was extended for one more game and he will be missing this match as a result of that. The two of them have been doing a solid job controlling the midfield and keeping possession of the ball or at least making the opponents struggle to complete passes.
Houston has to rely on the counter
The Dynamo enters this match with only DaMarcus Beasley out due to a knee surgery. With that being said Ricardo Clark, Alex and Boniek Garcia will have to do their best and build momentum in the midfield of Houston. The three of them will also need to get Will Bruin and Giles Barnes involved.
The less time those two are attacking the Galaxy's defense the greater the victory for the home side will be.
The best scenario for Houston is to score a couple of goals early in the game and force LA to abandon their plan and search for the potential equalizers. With the home side in full attack then Houston might be able to capitalize on a few counters.
However, that might prove to be too much for Houston to accomplish on Friday night. It does not help that the Dynamo are facing an LA squad that has not lost at home yet this season.