Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese believes Houston Dynamo FC’s problems on and off the field could make them a tougher opponent to face.
The Dynamo lost 2-1 to Minnesota United last weekend and are bottom of the Western Conference after going a club-record 15 matches without victory.
Houston’s problems are not just consigned to the pitch, either, as senior vice-president and general manager Matt Jordan was this week sacked by the beleaguered club.
Questions also continue to be asked of boss Tab Ramos, who is back involved after missing the Minnesota game to attend a family emergency.
However, Savarese – whose side picked up a surprise win at Seattle Sounders in their last game – is taking nothing for granted against the division’s bottom-placed side.
“This is going to be a difficult game against a team that is not getting good results, a team going through a difficult moment,” he said.
“It’s one of the more difficult games when you play one of these teams. We’ve got to make sure we arrive there with clear ideas and able to execute the things we’ve worked on.
“We can’t get stuck in the Seattle performance, as good as it was. Houston will be very tough. They’ve had difficulties, but that’s when teams become even more dangerous.”
Houston have 12 regular-season fixtures remaining to turn their season around, but majority owner Ted Segal already has an eye on next season.
Asked this week about the possibility of bringing in a new star player to strengthen the squad, Segal said: “I think it’s about getting the right star.
“I think we’ve seen examples in MLS of the right star translating to great success for the club and you’ve seen other individuals who might be taking a victory lap in MLS.
“We recognize the risk of devoting a lot of resources into a given individual, so we’re going to be very thoughtful about that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston Dynamo – Michael Nelson
Ramos will be without five players due to international commitments, including Panama midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla, who scored Houston’s goal against Minnesota.
Goalkeeper Marko Maric is also nursing a leg problem, meaning Nelson made his first career MLS start last time out. Nelson was beaten by two of the four shots faced in that game and will be hoping for better should he once again feature on Friday.
Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora
Mora scored one and set up another for the Timbers in their 2-0 win over Western Conference leaders Seattle.
The Chile international has now been involved in eight of Portland’s last 13 goals, made up of six strikes of his own and a couple of assists.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Portland are unbeaten in five straight matches against the Dynamo (W3 D2), including two draws in Houston.
– The Timbers have never won an MLS match in Houston (D6 L4, including playoffs), the only opponent Portland have visited more than five times without recording at least one win.
– Houston’s club-record winless run extended to a 15th game with a 2-1 loss to Minnesota United (D8 L7). The Dynamo are just the second team in MLS history to go 15 straight games in a single season without a win, along with San Jose Earthquakes, who failed to win any of their last 15 matches of the 2014 campaign.
– Portland are returning to Texas for the fifth time this season, where they managed just one point in their first four visits, conceding 13 goals, though that lone point came in a 2-2 draw at Houston on June 23. The Timbers have won just two of their 27 MLS matches in Texas (D11 L14, including playoffs).
– Carrasquilla put the Dynamo in front after just 56 seconds against Minnesota on Saturday before the Loons came back to win. It was the earliest goal scored by the Dynamo since Andrew Wenger scored after 52 seconds against Montreal in July 2017.