This Wednesday the Houston Dynamo play against USL PDL team Laredo Heat in the U.S. Open Cup before they rest for a couple of weeks for the World Cup break. The Dynamo will be looking to bounce back against the Heat after failing to win the past 4 games and being outscored 10-0...10-0!! This SHOULD be a good rebound game for the Dynamo, but we cannot take this match lightly. The Dynamo are currently riding a 4 game losing streak and the Heat are looking to notch another win against a second Houston team in less than 10 days previously defeating the Houston Dutch Lions 4-0.
The Dynamo haven't been the Dynamo in the past 5 games being outscored 15-1 and failing to notch a goal in nearly 400 minutes. Let's face it Dynamo faithful this has been a rough season for us thus far mirroring the 2010 season we don't talk about. This game will be another great opportunity for some of our non-starters to continue to shine.
Let's take a look at some of the positives of the past few games. First off Giles Barnes although he hasn't scored a goal has really stepped up into a leadership role and been vocal with the team on the field. Our #10 Alex Lopez has also been doing great for the past couple of games and really standing out against Sporting K.C. by creating some great opportunities. Finally our back up GK for the past few seasons Tyler Deric had a stellar first start of the season against SKC.
Finally let's discuss the unavoidable: our back four and forwards. If our defense can tighten up and hold tight against Laredo we should have no issues in winning this game and advancing to the next round of the USOC. But our back line can only do so much work. The other part that needs to come into play is that our forwards (Bruin, Cummings, and Johnson) need to break their scoring drought.
Know your enemy...
Laredo Heat currently sit second in the Mid South Division of the USL PDL. Leading the Heat is former Houston Dynamo reservist Felix Garcia with 15 shots, 2 goals and 1 assist. Laredo is lining this up to be David vs. Goliath type of match; if we are comparing team salaries yes it's seriously over matched. The Dynamo have a team salary of over $3M compared to the Heat whose players just receive a $500 per month stipend. Sans a stadium comparison that's about where it ends for major differences between the teams
Laredo have done phenomenally this season making necessary adjustments to go from 4th to 2nd in their division and those adjustments have paid off big time just ask the Houston Dutch Lions. If the Heat align themselves accordingly Laredo Heat's attacking pair of Felix Garcia and team captain Juan de Dios Ibarra can wreck havoc on the Dynamo.
The Dynamo are looking to bounce back from a devastating loss and the Heat look to build off their previous victory. Given the performance of the Dynamo over the past few games this will be Laredo's game to lose. One team is failing to take advantage of their opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net while the other is getting their stride. If the stars can align for the Houston Dynamo then our back four sync to stop allowing goals, and our forwards get the ball in back of the net. If those happen, the Dynamo should have no issues with coming away with the win and advancing to the next round of the USOC.
With that said, don't be surprised to see Dom play a lineup similar to what we had against Sporting K.C. Given that we are severely limited in options for forwards I wouldn't be surprised to see Jason Johnson get the start and Bruin coming off later in the game. Also I wouldn't be too shocked to see Bryan Salazar recalled from the Riverhounds to get some minutes at the half or late in the game. Our back 4 will probably see some changes with Brunner and Arena seeing some significant time given the performance of our past games. Finally our MF may not change too much given the injuries and World Cup call-ups. The only major change may be Brian Ownby seeing some time on the field.
Tune in to watch the Houston Dynamo take on the Laredo Heat at 9PM CST on the Houston Dynamo website after the Houston Dash game.