Dynamo Theory: Both Chivas USA and Houston Dynamo enter this match struggling mightily. What will it take for Chivas to win this match without Rosales?
Alicia Ratterree: The short answer is I don't know what Chivas will look like without Mauro Rosales. He's been out there every game so far this season, and he's played really well on both sides of the ball. He also leads the team in assists, and is the clear leader among the attackers.
Despite that, there might be some options waiting in the wings. Second-year pro Carlos Alvarez has started in central midfield in recent weeks, and he looked lively in an attacking role last week against San Jose. Martin Rivero has yet to make an MLS appearance for the Goats since being traded from Colorado, but he's been working up to match fitness, and might get the nod this week with Rosales out. If one of these guys can step up and take charge as a playmaker, that will hopefully get Chivas the chances needed to score, not just once, but hopefully multiple times.
Add to that the need for Chivas to play well on the defensive end. They've yet to earn a clean sheet, so clearly they're working through that. Add in the fact that they've been dealing with a lot of injuries on the backline, and this is a group that is still trying to find its collective footing. They are working hard, but it hasn't come together yet. Still, it does appear they are playing better on the defensive end most weeks. It's just a matter of putting it all together now.
DT: Offensively, Chivas has some young firepower. What is the best way for the Dynamo to neutralize the Chivas offense?
AR: Erick Torres leads the team in scoring, by a wide margin. Nobody else has even scored for CUSA since the first game of the season. In turn, it's safe to say that if the Dynamo can stop him, there's a pretty good chance Chivas won't score. Beyond him, the most consistently dangerous player this season who's set to play this week is winger Leandro Barrera, an Argentine newcomer to MLS. Unlike Rosales, Barrera plays like a prototypical winger on the left, and does well to set up his teammates with crosses, both in the air and on the ground. He hasn't scored, and I don't necessarily figure he'll be a big scoring threat himself, but he should be good for a couple of goals this year and he's very good at taking defenders on.
And beyond that...well, we'll just have to see who Wilmer Cabrera starts in this game. He's got some guys with a good reputation but who haven't featured much so far (Adolfo Bautista, Luke Moore), two new guys who haven't even played yet (Rivero and Matt Dunn), and some younger guys looking to break through (Matthew Fondy, Kris Tyrpak, and Caleb Calvert). If any of those players can manage to have a good performance against Houston if given the chance, he'll be setting himself up for more playing time in the near future.
DT: Dan Kennedy's red card was nothing short of dumb, and even as a Chivas follower I'm sure you can agree. Melia is extremely green. Do you think his lack of experience could play a big role in this match?
AR: We'll have to see, really. Tim Melia isn't at Dan Kennedy's level, or else he wouldn't be the backup. Admittedly, Melia has moments where he looks really shaky, and he's never won in any of his five previous MLS appearances. But I wouldn't say that any of those losses were his fault, as the four starts were season-ending blowouts, by which time the team had entirely given up on the season and he was basically a sitting duck. What's encouraging to me is that the times I've seen him have shaky moments he's straightened his issues out within the same game and looked pretty good, or as good as he could under the circumstances.
Melia could play a role in this game, for better or worse, but I think it's unlikely. What's more likely is that the rest of the team will or won't show up on defense and/or attack, and Melia, who's effectively a game manager, won't play a huge role in the result either way. Obviously, I'd prefer it if Kennedy was playing, but Melia getting the start is the least of my worries at the moment, honestly.
Lineup & Score Predictions
GK: Tim Melia
D: Eric Avila, Bobby Burling, Carlos Bocanegra, Donny Toia
M: Carlos Alvarez, Oswaldo Minda, Martin Rivero, Agustin Pelletieri, Leandro Barrera
F: Erick Torres
Score prediction: 1-0 Dynamo. I think Chivas should win this game, but I'm not confident they can, with the absences and the poor form they've been in.
For my answers to her questions, head over to The Goat Parade and remember, as always, be civial. You rep the Dynamo (and us).