Seattle and Houston come into tomorrow's match after surviving nil-nil draws and significant roster depletion last weekend. Now, the Sounders' possession-heavy attack will meet the staunch defense of the Dynamo. Will the men in orange finally figure out how to string together a counter-attack for a goal (or, at least, a shot)?
The Dynamo have their international players back from friendlies and the injury report is clean. Owen Coyle expressed uncertainty on Ricardo Clark's ability to practice this week, following a surprise start against Colorado while dealing with a chest injury. Not only did Clark play well in that game, he participated in full training on Thursday and should be considered a start, barring any setbacks.
Seattle cobbled together a rough lineup last week against Dallas while without Clint Dempsey (hamstring), Obafemi Martins (quadriceps), and Chad Marshall (injury). This week, however, all three and Osvaldo Alonso (groin injury) participated in training and it looks like they'll see returns on Saturday.
One of MLS' brightest defensive midfielders, Osvaldo Alonso, should be returning this weekend after suffering a groin injury during preseason. His presence, along with center back Chad Marshall, should bolster a struggling Seattle defense.
Head coach Sigi Schmid has also been experimenting with USMNT defender Brad Evans in at center back. The results have been discouraging but Schmid isn't abandoning his shuffling just yet and is hoping that Evans will settle into the new role in the coming weeks. If the Dynamo are looking to score in Seattle, Evans' shaky nature on the back line should be the target of the counter attack.
Finally, the Dynamo will contend with one of the most lethal tandems in recent MLS history, Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey. The duo have proven themselves difficult to contain and the Dynamo back line will need to keep their shape (and excellent recent form) while the pair look to exploit defensive gaps with their speed and crafty runs. The one bright spot for Houston could be that the two, coming back from injury, might not be at the full tempo as we've seen them before.
Back to Strength
Looking at the stats below is a bit disheartening. The Dynamo sit dead last in shots and shots-on-goal per game. Their accuracy in front of net is poor and they simply don't complete enough dribbles moving forward. On the other side, Houston stakes claim to possibly the best active goalkeeper in MLS and a comparatively strong defense.
The team appears to be settling into a defensive style of play, with a clear disconnect moving into the final third. As the team gets back to full-strength this weekend, it's possible Coyle can start solidifying his best eleven and, with that, we might see better cohesion in counter attacks and finding the right spaces to finish.
This theory should be put to the test against Seattle, one of the heaviest possession teams in the league, who will look to force the Dynamo into a counter attacking style. The defensive focus might be on Obafemi and Deuce but Marco Pappa has proven dangerous out of the midfield and is one to watch. Pappa played 80 for Guatemala and got back to town late this week so his minutes might be in question but if he's on the field, the battle against Garrido will be fun to watch.
Though the Dynamo will likely field their fifth different lineup in as many matches, fans could expect to see a similar strategy to what was employed in Los Angeles - a tough, defensively sound team looking to score on the set piece.
Houston Dynamo will travel to Seattle's CenturyLink Field for a Saturday match at 9:00PM CDT. The match can be seen on ROOT Sports and heard on 1560AM/850AM.