Toronto FC-Dynamo Preview

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2014

The Houston Dynamo need defensive help badly, and the probable return of Corey Ashe fits the bill.

Toronto FC ruthlessly exploited the absence of Houston's starting left back one week ago with an amazing rally.

The Dynamo hope Ashe returns to help them end a seven-game winless drought Saturday night and gain some revenge against visiting Toronto.

Ashe has missed the last two games with a left knee injury. Toronto (7-5-4) took advantage of his replacement as Warren Creavalle was often caught out of position in Houston's 4-2 road loss.

"Anytime you can get veteran guy back there and back on your backline, me and him playing together with the partnership we have and all our guys back in their right positions, is a good thing for our team," Dynamo captain Brad Davis told the league's official website.

Houston (5-11-3) has been outscored 19-4 in its 0-6-1 skid that is the worst seven-game run in club history. It's also the club's longest winless drought since going 0-6-4 from May 29-Aug. 10, 2010.

The Dynamo have conceded a league-high 38 goals.

Davis scored twice in the first half on assists by Giles Barnes last Saturday for a 2-0 lead. Toronto roared back with four goals - two by Jermain Defoe.

"We want to try and beat them for a couple of reasons," Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said. "One, they're ahead of us in the standings now; two, at the end of the game it leaves a sour taste in your mouth and the feeling that you want to get back on the field and hope you win no matter who you play."

While Houston has not played since last Saturday's loss, Defoe helped Toronto gain a point with his 11th goal on a penalty kick in Wednesday's 1-all draw with Vancouver.

Coach Ryan Nelsen credited a strong display by his midfield tandem of U.S. national team star Michael Bradley and Collen Warner.

"I think there's still that kind of feeling each other out in a way," Nelsen said. "With how the team is going we kind of had this rhythm and now Michael's in and it's the first time he's played with Collen properly.

"Now he's back and we're just getting used to each other. The great thing is, the more he plays and trains with the team, since he was away for so long, the better the chemistry will be."

Bradley did not play last weekend and was one of two changes made Wednesday by Nelsen along with the inclusion of defender Bradley Orr.

If Bradley plays this match, he figures to help Toronto reverse the edge in possession the Dynamo enjoyed in the previous meeting.

This contest could see Davis and Bradley on the field as opponents for the first time since they started together for the U.S. in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup on June 26.

Houston forward Will Bruin is stuck on a team-high six goals, with none in his last eight games. Toronto did not let Bruin get off a shot last week.