Its hard to think of anything positive related to the recent heat wave that also triggered a violent storm that left most of the D.C. area without power for days. If nothing else the oppressive temperatures may have helped prepare D.C. United for Sundays game at Houston.
"The weather in DC has been a little unusual to say the least, United defender Robbie Russell said. "But it has been good in preparing us for that kind of humidity and that kind of heat. I know I was hurting in Houston, but that game is in the past."
The heat seemed to take its toll on United in Houston back in May when the Black and Red lost to the Dynamo 1-0. Whether it has been the heat or just a strong Dynamo side, United has never won in Houston.
Since 2006 United has managed only one draw against the Dynamo in Texas and is 0-6-1 at both Robertson and BBVA Compass stadiums. United has been outscored in those matches 13-4.
"The summer has been brutal here so the guys are ready for that, added head coach Ben Olsen. It will be a level playing field as far as heat, it shouldnt be an issue."
To add to this wild weather summer, it might be hotter in D.C. on Sunday than Houston. The forecast for Houston is for temperatures in the 80s and a chance of showers. Width of the playing field and not the weather is probably the bigger issue. Even with their own stadium, Houston has kept its playing field only 70-yards wide.
They know how to utilize that small space, said former Dynamo star and now United captain Dwayne De Rosario. They are very good in tight quarters and we just have to be ready and willing to set the intensity and match up with them. It suits their game, but we also have the skill to play in those tight areas.
On 25 points from 18 matches Dominic Kinnears team is now in fifth place and very much in contention in the Eastern Conference. Since beating the LA galaxy at the end of May, the Dynamo has only won twice in seven matches. The Dynamo has yet to score in July with 0-0 draws against Chicago and Kansas City.
The book is similar with Houston year after year, Olsen said. Brad Davis is a helluva player and their service is very good and their commitment to get on the end of that service is very good. Their combative and their organized and they are well coached.
Much of the Dynamos invention on offense does go through Davis on the left side of the midfield. Davis had 16 assists last year and was critical in their march to MLS Cup 2011. Over the last three seasons Davis has chalked up 40 assists and is crosses from the flank are even more precise on Houstons tighter home field.
Houston is a team that likes to serve a lot of balls in (to the area), added United midfielder Chris Pontius. We have to close down service especially on Bard Davis and force them to the middle of the field and make them make the game from there. We need to get as wide as possible and we need to get more passion than we had the last time we were there.
Out wide United will be playing its first game without Andy Najar. While Najar has joined Honduras for the Olympics, Uniteds strength in number will once again be on display. Najars absence should allow a healthy Danny Cruz to get back in the starting lineup on the right side of midfield.
The most intriguing question about Olsens starting eleven centers on the midfield. Olsen could start Branko Boskovic in the attacking role and move Dwayne De Rosario higher behind the striker like he did in the 3-0 win over Montreal. Olsens other option is to use Boskovic off the bench and drop De Rosario back to the center of the midfield.