The Houston Dynamo's record against Mexican teams is sprinkled with all manner of results but regardless of win, loss or tie, its players and coach welcome the competition. A rematch with Atlante is Houston's quarterfinal assignment in the 2008-09 Concacaf Champions League, beginning with the first leg at Robertson Stadium Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Galavision).
The Houston Dynamo's record against Mexican teams is sprinkled with all
manner of results but regardless of win, loss or tie, its players and
coach welcome the competition.
"It's a good way to measure yourself as a team and also individually as
a player," said midfielder/right back Richard
after Houston beat Atlante and Pachuca and lost to Guadalajara in the
SuperLiga, and tied and lost to UNAM in the Concacaf Champions League.
"Some of that has to do with the rivalry between Mexico and the USA at
the national team level, but the club level is different. You might
never get the chance to play for the national team against Mexico, so a
lot of our guys feel this is a great opportunity for them, and I think
it's the same at the club level; these are always good, tough games."
A rematch with Atlante is Houston's quarterfinal assignment in the
2008-09 Concacaf Champions League, beginning with the first leg at
Robertson Stadium Tuesday (10
p.m. ET, Fox Soccer Channel, Galavision). The return leg will be played
When Houston pounded Atlante, 4-0, in the last meeting July 12 at
Robertson Stadium, the Dynamo was in the middle of the MLS season,
while Atlanta was about to conclude its preseason campaign. The roles
are reversed this time.
"I think the rivalry from USA and Mexico definitely carries over, but
you look at lot of their teams, and they just have some really good
players," says coach Dominic Kinnear,
who spent some time with Necaxa
during his playing career. "They're hard to beat down there because of
the crowds and the altitude and the travel, but even if you're playing
at home, they can be a handful if you're not ready."
Houston is still weeks away from its MLS opener. It tied Swedish club
Hammarby IF, 0-0, in the last game of its California camp and also lost
San Jose, 2-0. It won twice and tied once in its first three
games of the preseason.
The Dynamo is also the only MLS team of four to reach the CCL quarters.
contrast, all four Mexican clubs have advanced. Mexico City rivals UNAM
and Cruz Azul meet in an all-Mexican showdown, and Santos Laguna is
paired with Canadian representative Montreal (USL-1). Both of those
series begin Wednesday.
Atlante is more than a month deep into its league season, having played
seven matches. It is mired in a five-match winless streak (three ties,
two losses) and has just seven points in those seven games. This will
be its third game in seven days, and it has
a tough league assignment in Mexico City against Cruz Azul Saturday.
"They have a game [last] Wednesday and a game on Saturday, so the
message has been put out by ourselves to the team that's important for
us for the first 10-15 minutes to give them all we have and see if
they're fatigued a little bit," Kinnear said. "Hopefully, they will be.
But they are a good professional team, and it won't be easy. So we have
to make sure that our mentality is one of, I wouldn't say desperation,
but it would be nice to get a win in this first game."
Each team will be missing a vital player in the first leg; Atlante
keeper Federico Vilar is
suspended, as is Houston defender Eddie
Robinson. The Atlante game will also be the first competitive
Houston has played since it traded Dwayne
DeRosario to Toronto in
exchange for allocation money.
The heir-apparent to that dynamic playmaking role, Stuart Holden, has
missed some training in the past week to be with family and friends as
they mourn the death of his father, Brian
Holden, who died aged 55 a
week ago Monday. The time of a team training session was shifted so
players and staff could attend a private celebration in his honor last
Prior to kickoff against Atlante on Tuesday, a moment's silence will be
observed in his memory.