While several MLS teams are losing their biggest stars due to the upcoming World Cup, the Houston Dynamo are welcoming the arrival of three key players.
Houston (4-4-1) signed Ngwenya on April 13, but his international transfer certificate was withheld by his former Turkish club. Ngwenya began practicing with the Dynamo immediately, but wasn’t granted permission to play a game with Houston until Thursday.
This will be Ngwenya’s second stint with the Dynamo after helping them win the 2007 MLS Cup. He scored in the championship game and finished that season tied with Brian Ching for the team lead with seven goals.
“We’re glad to have Joe back,” coach Dominic Kinnear told the Dynamo’s official website. “We think he can help us and contribute to what we hope will be a successful season.”
Ching, limited to three games because of a hamstring injury, is the only Houston player invited to the U.S. national team training for next month’s World Cup. His departure might not hurt the Dynamo much with the sudden influx of forwards.
Besides Ngwenya, fellow strikers Landin and Weaver also are expected to see playing time.
Landin, who has a goal and an assist, sat out Houston’s most recent game - a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake on May 13 - with a concussion.
Weaver has yet to play this season after injuring his right knee in a preseason game. He had three goals in eight games for the Dynamo last year.
“(Having too many forwards) would be a nice (problem) to have,” Kinnear said.
Along with a bevy of new players set to play on the front line, Houston will have a new look in goal.
Tally Hall is expected to make his MLS debut, with starter Pat Onstad having joined Canada leading up to its international friendly against Argentina on Monday. Hall appeared in U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches last season, but Onstad played every minute of every MLS game for Houston in 2009 and this year.
Hall’s first test will come against a United team that is last in the league with only four goals.
D.C. (1-7-0) already has been shut out six times and is coming off back-to-back 1-0 defeats. With last Saturday’s loss to Colorado, United set a club record for futility to begin a season, surpassing the mark set by the 1996 inaugural team that opened 2-6-0.
Breaking out of this slump in Houston likely won’t be easy.
The Dynamo beat United 4-3 at home Aug. 1 in the last meeting and are 3-0-1 all-time against them at Robertson Stadium.
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