Dynamo-Los Angeles FC Preview
Los Angeles FC coach Bob Bradley will continue to manage Carlos Vela's workload during a busy period of games in order to avoid losing the prolific striker to another injury.
Vela has endured an injury-plagued start to the campaign that has restricted him to just one full 90-minute appearance so far.
That was against New York City FC last time out, a game that ended in a chastening 2-1 loss for LAFC, and the Mexican has had three weeks to recuperate since then.
However, with games against Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City to come in the space of a week, Bradley is erring on the side of caution.
"We're still on a game by game basis and that will be very important when we have weeks like the one coming up with three matches," Bradley said.
"So, managing his minutes and his load and making sure he can continue the mix between good training sessions and game minutes and trying to build that up."
The Black and Gold's defeat to NYCFC was their third in four matches, a downturn in form that leaves them ninth in the Western Conference.
Saturday's opponents Houston have struggled for consistency, meanwhile, winning two and losing two of their last four matches.
The Dynamo are winless in 12 of their travels stretching back into last season and boss Tab Ramos has acknowledged the importance of this weekend's showdown.
"It will be huge," he said. "They are a very good team. We respect all those players and the coach, but we are going there to get a win. It would be good for our gradual progress.
"LAFC is a great attacking team. They are a great team with the ball, and they are a great team recovering the ball just four or five seconds after losing it.
"If you complete a couple of passes after that, the field gets open and they get exposed. We will have good opportunities with the players that we have."
Los Angeles FC - Corey Baird
While Vela's fitness continues to dominate discussion, Baird has quietly gone about his business this season with three goals and two assists in his first seven games for the club. That includes a goal in the reverse fixture with Houston in early May, and compares to two goals and four assists in 21 games with Real Salt Lake last season.
Houston Dynamo - Derrick Jones
Jones leads the way for the Dynamo in terms of his 71 per cent dribble completion rate this season, with his runs from midfield helping to drive his side forward. The 24-year-old does not often play a direct part in goals - just the one assist to his name this term - but he is as important as anyone to how this team ticks.
- Los Angeles FC is unbeaten against Houston (W4 D3) in MLS play, including winning all three meetings in Los Angeles. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Houston on May 1, with neither team ever keeping a clean sheet against the other.
- LAFC's 2-1 loss to New York City on May 29 was just its seventh defeat in 52 home matches (W32 D13, including playoffs) in its MLS history. LAFC has never lost consecutive home matches in MLS.
- The Dynamo have won just two of their last 30 away matches (D4 L24) dating back to April 2019. Houston is winless in 12 straight on the road (D4 L8) dating back to a win at Sporting Kansas City in August 2020.
- Either Maximiliano Urruti (three goals, one assist) or Memo Rodriguez (one goal, two assists) has been involved in each of Houston's last six MLS goals, including an Urruti goal on a Rodriguez assist on against Vancouver Whitecaps on May 22.
Updated June 18, 2021