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CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Houston vs. Atlante (Second Leg)



After allowing Atlante to level the score late in last week's home-leg of their CONCACAF Champions League series, the Houston Dynamo will need to do something an MLS team has never done in an official CONCACAF competition–win in Mexico.

Atlante will attempt to prevent that from happening tonight in the second-leg of their Champions League quarterfinal series (10pm, FSC/Telefutura) as the Mexican club looks to build on last week's late-game heroics. Gabriel Pereyra and Luis Gabriel Rey will headline an Atlante offense which looked anemic at times in last week's 1-1 draw. Atlante will also look to its home field advantage, at the Andres Quintana Roo Stadium in Cancun, Mexico, as a way to edge out Dominic Kinnear's Dynamo.

Veteran forward and U.S. national team player Brian Ching will look to help spark the Dynamo's offense which is still brushing off its pre-season rust. But the Houston Dynamo are no strangers to scoring goals in bunches in Mexico. In the group stage of the tournament, the Dynamo, playing away at Pumas, tied with the Mexican club, 4-4.

Expect striker Kei Kamara to also play a vital part in Tuesday night's game as he proved to be a handful for Atlante defenders in last week's tie. Kamara was active throughout the first leg and it would not be surprising to see the Sierra Leone international getting more touches.

In last week's first leg, the Dynamo opened up the scoring thanks to a Bobby Boswell header off a Brad Davis corner kick in the 34th minute. The first-half goal seemed to be enough for a victory but Atlante found an equalizer eight minutes from the death when Pereyra got on the better end of a corner kick as well as the benefit of some slack marking.

The Dynamo can also advance to the next round with a tie, but they have to do so by scoring at least two goals. If the teams finished tied 1-1, they will play a 30-minute overtime. If the score is still tied, the series would be decided by penalty kicks.

Think Houston can edge out Atlante in Mexico? Will Atlante come out victorious? Do you see the game going to a penalty shoot-out? Think Kamara will be the key to the game tonight?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Let’s hope Houston wins to so we can put to bed the fact that an MLS team has never won in Mexico in a official competition.

    Also that Atlante GK has some really awful tattoo’s.

  2. If the Dynamo can control the midfield like they did in the home leg, they will win. At least two goals missed by inches last week and twice, the Dynamo tried one too many passes (Note to Holden, PUT IT IN THE DAMN NET!).


  3. Atlante used the same tactic (repeatedly fouling midfielders to prevent quick transition) that Houston and DC used against Chivas and Pachuca in previous editions of the Champions Cup.

    The only difference is that Houston isn’t built to bring the ball through the middle but more like Alex said by using the flanks which is the only way I see Houston doing any damage.

    If Houston is able to bring the same energy they brought against PUMAS reserves in Mexico City and get on the scoreboard early enough to force Atlante to come out and play then they should have a decent chance at advancing.

  4. I just read that Eddie Johnson went 90 and had an assist and drew a Red Card, but still didn’t score. He may be back in the states in July, along with Beckham, if he can’t score soon.

  5. The Dynamo have a very good chance, especially if they can get the first goal.

    The biggest thing the Dynamo have going for them is that the Atlante defense’s week point is flank play (most of Cruz Azul’s chances over the weekend came off the flank) and that happens to be the Dynamo’s specialty. Vilar’s presence in net was the only thing that kept Cruz Azul from going up 2-0 in that game. Vilar won’t make the same mistakes that Gato made in Houston, which you think would be a drawback (it is), but most of Houston’s best chances came off balls that Vilar wouldn’t have been able to stop. If the Dynamo finish more like they did over the weekend in the “friendly” against Montreal (which the Dynamo won 3-2 while playing almost everybody on the roster) then they can go up early and force Atlante to open up and prevent them from fouling and using the long ball like they did with great effect in Houston. Look for Ching and Mullan to have big games.

    The downside is that Rey will be more dangerous, not only from being at home but because it looks like Boswell has the flu and Robinson has a knee injury. That could mean the starting center back tandem would be Julius James (who played well, but lost his mark on Atlante’s goal) and Geoff Cameron (who was probably the second best at centerback in terms of performance on the roster last year, in limited appearances at the spot). That’s a fast, physical tandem, but relatively low at experience in dealing with tricky forwards like Rey. The good news is that Rey is only dangerous when he can get the ball, and at NO time last week was Atlante able to control the midfield (though Atlante did ok in bypassing the midfield last week, Rey hasn’t looked to dangerous when he isn’t being fed the ball from midfield. For that matter, the Atlante attack hasn’t looked dangerous without the midfield in the last few weeks). Now, things could change this week and Atlante could find more space in the midfield (especially if Holden has trouble in the quick transition game), but I don’t think it’s too likely.

    My big question is how Dom will respond if Atlante starts fouling like they did last week. They stopped the transition game for the Dynamo which resulted in Atlante slowly compressing the game into the Dynamo half without controlling the midfield. Kamara became the lone outlet man, and took a beating for it. If Dom doesn’t push Holden up (or perhaps insert Ashe on the left for Davis, and use his speed to dish out to the wing and counter attack) then the Dynamo attack will fall silent like it did in the second half last week. That’s the type of situation that led to Atlante getting the corner that they put in for a goal, and looks to be the only way Atlante can score right now.

    If the Dynamo play like they did in the first half of last weeks game, they can win in regulation, not question. If they can FINISH, they can win big. But if Atlante can gain midfield traction (something they haven’t shown they can do) or prevent the Dynamo from stringing passes together, then it could be a long night.


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