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Midfield strength gives Dynamo edge
by Paul Kennedy, October 30th, 2013 8:42PM

TAGS:  houston dynamo, mls, montreal impact


[MLS PLAYOFFS: Houston-Montreal] The Houston Dynamo is actually looking forward to Thursday's extra game against Montreal (TV: NBCSN, 8:30 p.m. ET). Last year, it beat Chicago in the play-in game and went on to play in MLS Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons. This year, it opens at home against the Impact, which needed help from New York on the final day of the season to eliminate Chicago and avoid one of the worst collapses in MLS history.

Houston has the best record at home in MLS playoff history -- eight wins and one loss -- and will be favored against the Impact. After slumping badly in early September, the Dynamo went 4-1-2 over its last seven games and assured itself of a playoff berth Sunday with a 2-1 win at D.C. United

"I do feel like last year, the run that we made and that play-in game -- it did help us," Brad Davis told after Sunday's D.C. game. "We were on a little bit of a roll at the end of the year."

Davis, a veteran of all eight seasons in Houston, heads the Dynamo midfield that also includes Honduran international Oscar Boniek Garcia, former U.S. World Cup player Ricardo Clark and second-year pro Warren Creavalle whose emergence allowed the Dynamo to trade Adam Moffat to Seattle.

Recent Form (last 5 games):
Houston: TWTLW
Montreal: LLLWL

Montreal has struggled in midfield. Brazilian Felipe has been inconsistent, and Patrice Bernier and Argentine Hernan Bernardello, who arrived in mid-season on a DP contract, have been in and out of the lineup with injuries.

Season Series:
June 19: Montreal 2 Houston 0
Aug. 24:
Montreal 5 Houston 0
Oct. 4:
Houston 1 Montreal 0

INJURIES. Montreal won the first two games of the season series with Houston -- at home -- with Alessandro Nesta in the lineup. But it lost the third game at Houston without the Italian center back. He's suffering from a sore calf, and if he can't go, it will be a big blow for the Impact. Left back Jeb Brovsky (broken toe) and Bernier (hip) are expected back after missing the season finale.

Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor has been ruled out for season the Dynamo after he underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Houston (Possible XI):
1 Tally Hall (USA/28)
8 Kofi Sarkodie (USA/22)
32 Bobby Boswell (USA/30)
2 Eric Brunner (USA/27)
26 Corey Ashe (USA/27)
27 Oscar Boniek Garcia (Honduras/29)
5 Warren Creavalle (USA/23)
13 Ricardo Clark (USA/30)
11 Brad Davis (USA/31)
23 Giles Barnes (England/25)
12 Will Bruin (USA/24)
Avg. Age: 26.9
Montreal (Possible XI):
1 Troy Perkins (USA/31)
6 Hassoun Camara (France/29)
13 Matteo Ferrari (Italy/34)
55 Wandrille Lefevre (France/24)
5 Jeb Brovsky (USA/25)
8 Patrice Bernier (Canada/34)
21 Justin Mapp (USA/29)
23 Hernan Bernardello (Argentina/27)
7 Felipe (Brazil/23)
22 Davy Arnaud (USA/33)
9 Marco Di Vaio (Italy/37)
Avg. Age: 29.6

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