We talked with Ben Bromley from SB Nation's Black and Red United blog to get a hint of what's to come this afternoon as well as a bit of background on D.C. United since their last meeting with the Dynamo.
Dynamo Theory: D.C. United became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a
playoff spot. It is especially impressive considering the team
finished in last place in the league last year marking one of the best
turnarounds I've ever seen by a team. DC did have a bit of a roster
makeover in the off season, but what moves really were difference
makers and did that player or players impact the team identity in any
Black and Red United: The three biggest difference makers are up the spine of the team: Bobby Boswell, Davy Arnaud, and Fabian Espindola. After having one of the worst defenses in league history last year, the addition of Bobby Boswell has solidified that back line and has helped bring along the development of first round pick Steve Birnbaum. Davy Arnaud's move from the wing into the center of midfield after three games provided the terrier that Perry Kitchen needed next to him. He has made a similar move as Ben Olsen made earlier in his career, and he has been exactly what the team needed in the middle of the park. Finally, Fabian Espindola has provided the offensive spark and audacity that the team just didn't have last year. The makeover of the team, with its emphasis on veteran leadership, has completely changed the culture.
DT: DC struggles to play in Houston every year having never taken all 3
points in Houston. What sets this D.C. United team apart from others
that could go into BBVA Compass Stadium and finally end this streak?
B&RU: It's the same thing as above: the team's new veteran leadership. This isn't the same group of people who have lost to Houston time after time at BBVA Compass Stadium. It doesn't hurt that Houston is in a weakened state, and that they broke a similar streak against Sporting Kansas City earlier this year.
DT: This is a DC team that is dangerous all over, but really its
defense has been among the best in the league. What are some ways that
a Dynamo side desperate for points could break it down?
B&RU: The defensive rhombus that is Perry Kitchen, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, and Bill Hamid is one of the best in the league. Boswell should be in the running for defensive player of the year, and Bill Hamid should win the goalkeeper of the year. The best way to try and break it down is by attacking the fullbacks, and especially the left back. Sean Franklin has come in at right back and really locked down that spot, but has had made a few mistakes this season. The left back will either be the newly healthy Chris Korb or the second-year player Taylor Kemp: attacking whoever is playing there is Houston's best bet. Trying to go through the middle, however, is a recipe for sadness.
Lineup: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius; Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva.
Prediction: While Houston is desperate for points, United also has plenty to play for as well. I think that United finally gets it done and beats Houston 2-1 on Sunday.
For my answers to Ben's questions, please head over to Black and Red United and check them out!