MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
08/22/2014 2:07 PM
08/22/2014 2:13 PM
Houston (7-12-4) at Columbus (7-8-9), 7:30 p.m.
Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - With two months remaining in the MLS regular season, both the Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew are gearing up for a playoff push as the two sides square off at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
Columbus comes into the fixture in fourth place in the Eastern Conference having won three of its last five matches, while Houston has won two of three games and could be set for another late-season surge.
The Dynamo may reside in a tie for eighth place with Chicago in the East, but Dominic Kinnear's team is just three points from a playoff spot.
In recent years Kinnear's team has developed a reputation for coming on strong at the end of the season and carrying that form over into the playoffs, and he will hope that this year is no different.
After going through an eight-game winless skid from the middle of May until after the World Cup break in July, Kinnear has seen his team capture a pair of quality wins over D.C. United and Philadelphia this month. And another three points against the Crew on Saturday would continue that positive momentum.
Houston notched a 2-0 win over the Union last weekend thanks to a goal from Will Bruin in the 51st minute and an own goal from Philadelphia's Raymon Gaddis in the 90th.
The win has Houston right back in the mix in the East, and goalkeeper Tally Hall sees no reason why his team can't keep winning games as the season edges toward the final months.
"We have a little bit of momentum building, we're looking to push that forward," said Hall. "I want to win every single game we have left, that's our goal. It's highly unlikely, but the simple fact is, I look at every single game and think: we can win that game."
The Crew is coming off their best performance of the season, a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy that keeps the team in playoff position.
Justin Meram scored in the 23rd minute before turning provider for Ethan Finlay's goal 10 minutes later.
Gyasi Zardes scored early in the second half for the Galaxy, but Columbus finished strong with goals from Ben Speas and Giancarlo Gonzalez, giving the team its first four-goal match of the campaign.
Columbus closes the season with nine of its final 10 games against Eastern Conference opposition beginning with Houston, and midfielder Tony Tchani looks at that stretch in a very simple way.
"From now on, we just need to beat all the teams in the Eastern Conference," Tchani said after the win over the Galaxy. "We're playing against them; we're not playing against the Western Conference. It's always good to have those wins, but if we can beat the Eastern Conference teams, that will help us push it into the playoffs."
Based on recent history the Crew should have a good chance at keeping their momentum going on Saturday as the club is unbeaten at home against Houston in the last seven meetings between the sides at Crew Stadium.
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