Well, we have one match in the books - and what a match it was. The Houston Dynamo, no stranger to slow starts, rode a Will Bruin brace in the first thirteen minutes to a 4-0 rout of the New England Revolution in last Saturday's season opener. That was a fun one to watch, and you could be forgiven for wishing that the Dynamo's revelry could go on forever.
But it can't. Next week is upon us, and another date is ahead for the Dynamo. Saturday night will see the Montreal Impact come to town after their season started with a 3-2 loss in Dallas last week. Clearly, the Impact don't really look like the force that they were for so much of last year - and part of that has to do with the last time these two teams met.
You remember that, don't you? A Halloween win-or-go-home match for the second year in a row. And for the second year in a row, it was the Dynamo that won, blanking Montreal 3-0 in a win that went at least some of the way to erasing the memories of two duds that the club played in Montreal earlier that season. Well, if you remember, both Andres Romero and Marco Di Vaio were red carded for their roles in the scrum that broke out late in the match, when Impact players had clearly lost their cool. Both Romero and Di Vaio will be suspended for this weekend's match, as the fallout from their implosion is still being felt.
Along with Romero and Di Vaio being suspended, the Impact have lost several players of note. Alessandro Nesta retired at the end of last season, Davy Arnaud left to pursue better fortunes with D.C. United, and Sanna Nyassi left the season opener with an injury. These were all major players for the Impact last year, and it will probably take time to get used to their absence - time they won't have when they return to BBVA Compass Stadium tomorrow.
The Dynamo, meanwhile, are riding high. There were many questions surrounding the club in the offseason - and while none of them have been firmly answered, the performance against the Revolution is certainly something to build on. With Tony Cascio's injury in the opener leaving his status in the air for now, it will be up to someone else (perhaps Andrew Driver, perhaps Warren Creavalle or Servando Carrasco - both of who are working their way back from their own injuries) to step into the midfield of Boniek Garcia, Brad Davis, and Ricardo Clark that looked in prime form last weekend. Boniek's switch from a right midfielder to a central attacking one was a spark for the offense, and possibly one of the major reasons why the Dynamo scored four on Saturday. With those kind of results, it would be shocking if Dom Kinnear changed that much.
Another thing that worked was David Horst paired with Jermaine Taylor in the center of the backline. One match is too small of a sample to show a trend, but his performance against the Revolution certainly earned him some fans, as well as perhaps a longer lease on the spot next to Taylor. If he has a repeat performance - and keeps it up - one of the biggest worries from last season will be a lot less worrisome.
And now to the big question: can Will Bruin keep it up? He had two last weekend - and two against Montreal in that playoff match - and looks to give his confidence another boost with a good performance Saturday night. Again, one week is much too small for a sample size - or to silence his critics - but another performance like that would be welcome to everyone in Houston.
This may not be the same Impact that we saw last year, but it's still a dangerous squad. Justin Mapp is still in the mix, and memories of their exit from last postseason can't be happy ones. I'm sure the Impact would like nothing more than to replace those memories with better ones - and that will be the Dynamo's task. Last Saturday is going to be a tough act to follow, and I'm not too sure how much room the Dynamo will have to spare. You can be certain that if there's a letdown from the emotion and intensity of the opener, Montreal will attempt to use it to shove their foot through that door. It's going to be ninety minutes at full throttle, and only that time will determine who is left standing when all's said and done.
So: will it be a repeat performance, or will Act II change the plot for the Dynamo? All shall be revealed tomorrow.