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August 16, 2013 at 11:31 PM

Sounders FC vs. Houston Dynamo, preview and prediction

Houston Dynamo LogoSounders FC (10-7-4) vs. Houston Dynamo (9-7-6)
Saturday, Aug. 17, 6 p.m., BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Local TV: KONG 6/16 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Radio: None
Spanish coverage: THIS-TV (KOMO2), La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Baldomero Toledo

KEY DYNAMO PLAYERS

M Brad Davis — Might have the best left foot in MLS. Might serve the best dead-ball cross in MLS. The five-time All-Star in a unique talent to be sure, and he’s on a team that fits his skill set with a number of tall targets on set pieces. He’s won team MVP the past four years and is the franchise leader in games, starts, and assists, so he’s kind of a big deal in Houston.

F Will Bruin — Already up to 22 goals into his third season as a professional. That he has a team-high five this year probably isn’t a surprise. That he also has a team-high five assists might be, especially after hearing about the previous guy. Isn’t shy in the big moment as he had four goals in the 2012 playoffs en route to an MLS Cup appearance.

GK Tally Hall — The Gig Harbor native is the only Dynamo player who’s been on the field for all 1,980 minutes of the league season. He’s consistent play over the past three years or so even earned him a pseudo USMNT call-up of sorts, when a few MLS goalkeepers rotated back in May. Among the league leaders in save percentage (73 percent) and goals-against average (1.00).

KEY MATCHUPS

Clint Dempsey vs. Ricardo Clark — One thing I learned recently: these 30-year-olds were college teammates at Furman, not to mention shared time with the U.S. national team And with Dempsey slotted to start as a withdrawn forward and Clark a physical, defensive presence in midfield, I have a feeling these two might tangle a time or two.

Mauro Rosales vs. Corey Ashe — Perhaps the least heralded Sounders DP has been the most productive recently, with either a goal or assist in each of the past three games. Expect Seattle’s attack to lean toward that side, as well, due to personnel issues. Houston’s left back has the talent, experience and physical tools to shut things down on that flank as a two-time MLS All-Star.

Seattle’s hot streak vs. the Texas heat — I arrived in town around 1 a.m. Friday, and even then the heat and humidity were a smack in the face. At practice later that day at 3 p.m. it was nearly unbearable. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. local time, which will help, but I’d expect the unforgiving elements will have an effect on a depleted squad that comes in on a three-game winning streak.

PREDICTION

It’s not many teams that could overcome the losses of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins, but the Sounders will do their best with Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle.

The midfield might have a new look, as well, with Neagle pushing up and Brad Evans a gametime decision as to whether he’ll start. As such, and maybe because of the heat/humidity, I think Seattle might slow things down a little bit more than usual and play a bit more conservatively.

I think this game will be competitive and ultimately end in a draw, which, I know, isn’t an exciting pick.

Sounders FC 1, Houston Dynamo 1

SEA — Lamar Neagle (Osvaldo Alonso) 23′
HOU — Giles Barnes (Adam Moffat) 46′

*     *     *

What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?

| More in Preview and prediction

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