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Scouting Report: Houston Dynamo

Taking a look at the Dynamo, who come into Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday for an Eastern Conference battle.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This ain't your mom and pop's Houston Dynamo; in fact, this isn't even the same Houston Dynamo team the Columbus Crew faced earlier this season.

After being one of the most consistent teams in Major League Soccer since they joined the league in 2006, the Dynamo have gone through a transition this season. Historically, Houston begins their playoff push this time of year, yet this year's group has yet to prove they can repeat the feats of the past.

"Now it's a little bit different," Berhalter said of the Dynamo's core.

"They had the center backs, the same goalie, the same forwards, the same midfielders. Normally it was a consistent group together that they were relying on."

Gone our some of the more recognizable players in Houston's history - Brian Ching, Stuart Holden, and Crew assistant coach Pat Onstad. In their place are younger players who continue to build the Dynamo legacy through a similar system.

"I think it's a well-coached team first of all," Berhatler said.

"[Dominic Kinnear] has a specific way to play and he sticks to it and he gets the guys to believe in it and execute it. That's important."

Forwards Will Bruin and Giles Barnes have become the new weapons for Houston over the last few years. In 2014, Bruin has scored nine goals while Barnes has five goals and five assists. Of course not all the old hats are gone, as U.S. World Cup player Brad Davis still patrols the left side of midfield, registering four goals and six assists on the campaign.

Added to that are the summer transfers of left back and former Chicago Fire player DaMarcus Beasley, who was a cog in the United States' run to the knockout rounds in Brazil, and Honduran international Luis Garrido.

Berhalter believes the experience these two players bring to the Dynamo make them that much more talented.

"Beasley's played in four World Cups; he's a guy that knows what's going on," Berhalter said of the new players. "Playing in big games is nothing to him.

"Garrido is a guy who also has international experience. These guys bring routine to the table and when you look at their midfield specifically, it's a talented group."

Despite the changes, Houston has maintained their typical physical style of play they used in the days of Ching and Holden.

"Houston's a team that you have to try to out work or at least match what their work ethic is going to be," midfielder Ethan Finlay said.

"They're always a team that's going to be physical. We have to be able to match their physicality but also play our game."

Both teams ride the waves of victory into this match after the Black and Gold defeated the LA Galaxy 4-1 last Saturday and Houston won 2-0 over the Philadelphia Union.

The Dynamo currently sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of the playoffs and five points behind Columbus. Houston come into a venue that has historically been difficult for them, with no wins in Columbus Crew Stadium since 2007.

This match is big for both teams as they continue to jockey for positioning in a tight Eastern Conference. A win by either team can vault them forward in the playoff race over the final stretch.