The Houston Dynamo are coming off of impressive back-to-back wins against Toronto FC (2-1) and the Portland Timbers (3-1) and it looks like the offense may have found its groove and the defense has begun to look stubborn again without the help of a deeper sitting midfield. The Dynamo go back on the road to meet with the LA Galaxy for the 2nd time this season. The Dynamo previously leaked an early goal to Robbie Keane before Nathan Sturgis's equalizer capped the scoring. The game marked an improved consistency on defense with the introduction of the 3 man central midfield and the Dynamo will want their return visit to mark their 3rd win in a row which will help them remain competitive in the Western Conference.
In our preview of the match we went over the key matchups that the Dynamo will face and look to exploit along with a few important statistical breakdowns of each side. Still, we wanted to know the Galaxy's side of things as they look to rebound from a 4-0 road loss to Orlando City SC so we talked with Mike Gray of LAG Confidential to see what's going on with the reigning MLS Champs.
Dynamo Theory: Omar Gonzalez is clearly a huge piece to the LA Galaxy back line and his omission was at least felt on the score line against Orlando City SC last Sunday. Why was Gonzalez riding the bench and could his presence have prevented any of the goals going against the Galaxy?
LAG Confidential: The Galaxy originally reported that Omar Gonzalez was left out due to squad rotation, then later admitted he was nursing a knee injury. Would Omar's presence have shored up the Galaxy defense? No doubt, but give Orlando City credit where it's due. After all, their first goal consisted of three one-touch passes. (You can defend the opponent, but you can't defend the ball)
DT: The Galaxy's offense has in the past been one of the most potent, but looks fairly sedated without star forward Robbie Keane who has missed time because of an injury. Gyasi Zardes looks to be the heir apparent as the top forward after Keane, but he's struggled early this year with 2 goals in 11 appearances. Is he missing opportunities, the service just not what it was, or is he just a better player when Keane is around?
LAGC: It's a little bit of everything. During the post-Landon Donovan era, the Galaxy have ditched Tiki-Taco for a more direct approach, which is how you end up with Stefan Ishizaki as the main chance creator and Alan Gordon leading the team in goals. (Of course, Robbie Keane's 7 game absences with a groin strain has something to do with that as well)
The problem is, until Steven Gerrard arrives and new acquisitions like Sebastian Lletget begin to gel, LA are stuck playing a style of play that limits their offensive potential. Gyasi Zardes hasn't been performing at the same level this year, but his production is also a reflection of a less potent Galaxy attack.
DT: Losing 4-0, even on the road, simply sucks. What measures are the Galaxy taking to rebound from this loss against a Dynamo team that looks to have found its feet in recent games?
LAGC: Apparently there was a team meeting where things were said. Whether or not the words pay off or not, we'll find out tonight.
Projected Lineup: GK Jaime Penedo, D Oscar Sorto, D Omar Gonzalez, D Leonardo, D AJ DeLaGarza, M Jose Villarreal, M Baggio Husidic, M Stefan Ishizaki, F Gyasi Zardes, F Alan Gordon
(Note: Lineup prediction is guaranteed to be wrong)
Prediction: LA 1-0
For my answers to Mike's excellent questions head over to LAG Confidential to check them out.