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Soccer Notes: Dynamo Look for Intensity; Mexico's Stars Get Ready for Reliant

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The Houston Dynamo locker was quiet following their 2-0 loss Saturday night to the Columbus Crew. Whether it was the loss or the fact that there was no air conditioning in the home locker room, players were quick to leave after the match.

Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear went through his post-match comments quickly as well. "We didn't play good, we lost; that's it."

Kinnear was quick to point out how flat his team was. In the 41st minute, Crew forward Andres Mendoza went right up the middle of the Dynamo defense to knock in the first goal of the evening. The Dynamo came out with a bit of energy in the second half, but were brought back down to earth following Lovel Palmer's ejection in the 52nd minute for receiving a second yellow card. Columbus was able to put the game away in the 77th minute with a counterattack, finished off by Bernardo Anor.

Practice yesterday was more spirited, according to Brian Ching. One of three remaining players from their championship years, Ching has been critical recently about the team's intensity on the practice pitch. For Ching, "it starts here in practice."

"If we have a lot more practices like that and it's a lot more consistent, then that intensity will carry over to the games and give the guys more confidence," Ching told Hair Balls. "It starts here in practice."

Injuries so far this season have hampered Ching and kept him off the pitch. He blames himself to a point, for not being able to be on the field and push his teammates. "Hopefully me being around a lot more, with some of the other veteran guys, we can instill [intensity] in these guys."

The Dynamo are next in action Saturday night, when they travel to the nation's capital to face DC United.

Mexico, US to highlight Wednesday's Gold Cup Semifinals The CONCACAF Gold Cup returns to Houston on Wednesday with a semifinal double-header. First, the Stars and Stripes look to avenge their only loss in this tournament when they take on Panama. In the nightcap, Mexico will put their star-studded lineup against Honduras. The winner of each match will meet in the finals on Saturday.

The double-header, played at Reliant Stadium, is sold out.

Mexico -- who arrived in town Sunday night -- practiced yesterday at the Methodist Training Center, across the street from Reliant Stadium. Even though Mexico steamrolled through opposition in the group stages of the tournament, they had to come from behind to beat Guatemala. The players know they can't underestimate Honduras.

"We have to be respectful of Honduras's game, just like we respected Guatemala's game." Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez told Hair Balls. "They're a strong side; they're in the semifinals for a reason. We have to put our batteries on and go to work."

Mexico will face off against Honduras at 9 p.m. The USA will do battle against Panama at 6 p.m.

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