2008 Concacaf Champions Cup - We are all DC and Houston fans tonight
Last year, both teams looked strong in the Concacaf Champions Cup, but fell in the semifinals to their Mexican opponents.
For the opening round, DC United will play Jamaica's Harbour View while the Dynamo get Guatemalan side CSD Municipal. With both MLS teams still in preseason, these games will not be easy.
DC United at Harbour View
8pm ET/5pm PT
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Harbour View is in the middle of a very bad run of play, winning just one of their last eight domestic games, plus they might be without striker and former Metrostar Fabian Taylor. I can't tell for sure, but I think he has signed with Norwegian side Notodden FK. The teams website has a news release about Taylor, but sadly my Norwegian fails me at the moment, so I'm not sure what exactly it says. However, I see that there is a poll on the right hand side asking who the team's top scorer will be this season and he is listed as an option.
If it is true that Taylor is gone, United will want to send a big thank you across the Atlantic. Without Taylor, Kavin Byran, who is just back from injury, will need to take over things on top. DC get another break as defender Christopher Harvey is suspended for the match due to a red card from Harbour's qualifier last December.
All of this should allow United time to organize and settle. Their main concern for this match will be stamina as none of them are truly match fit. To combat this, they will need their midfield, lead by designated player Marcelo Gallardo, to control the game. If DC's defense is chasing balls for most of the first half, Harbour will pull out a surprise.
In the end, I think it will be a little bit of a struggle, but DC should get out of Jamaica will no less then a tie.
Predictions: Me DC 1-1 HV, Wife DC 2-1 HV
One last thing, I'm not sure Harbour View coach Lenworth Hyde Sr. fully understands the CCC as he said, "Going out there today we can't give up any goals. The away goal rule is in effect so we have to be very disciplined defensively." The CCC does not use the away goal rule like they do in Europe. Never a good side when your coach doesn't know what type of game needs to be played.
Houston Dynamo vs. CSD Municipal
10pm ET/7pm PT
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Municipal are also in the middle of a bad streak as they have lost their last two matches 1-0 and have dropped to third in the league, however they still have plenty of class, most of which has spent some time in MLS.
Fredy García spent some time with Columbus, but never really achieved much in their midfield. However, back home with Municipal, he has proven himself to be a threat at any moment. The combination of García with Fred Thompson (not the former presidential candidate) has proven very difficult for teams to break.
But Houston's biggest concern is probably on their own side of the ball. Right now the club is missing a number of midfielders due to injury and Olympic call-ups. Adding to these problems is the lack of cohesion in the back and a bunch of unknowns up top and it might be difficult for the Dynamo to come out of Latin America with anything good.
For this to work, Houston needs an outstanding performance by Dwayne De Rosario with Ricardo Clark picking up the problems before they get to the back line. When they do sneak through, Waibel, Robinson and Barrett will need to watch Bobby Boswell as he is the new man to their lineup.
This one will probably be a bit of a slog as Municipal is very happy to play the foul game. Don't forget Carlos Ruiz played here during his formative days and he still shows what he learned every time he steps out of the pitch (watch out Ricardo Clark).
Predictions: Me HD 1-2 Municipal, Wife HD 2-1 Municipal
So why are we all DC and Houston fans tonight? Simple, if soccer in America ever hopes to gain respect both internationally and locally, we need all teams to win on the international level. If MLS wins the region, they will have a chance to play a major team from Europe or South America in a meaningful competition, which will give the league a chance to catch additional eyeballs. The more people that pay attention to MLS, the better it, and the people that play in it, become.
Full Concacaf Champions Cup schedule here.