The Houston Dynamo come home after a road draw with New York City FC and will face the other New York club, the Red Bulls. Despite a strong showing against NYCFC, the Dynamo were only able to muster 1 goal despite largely controlling the chances for much of the game. They'll look to rebound against a New York Red Bull's side that has struggled on the road, only earning 1 road win this year which goes back to March 28th.
In our preview of the match we outlined some of the key matchups the Dynamo will need to exploit and look out for, but we wanted to know a bit more about the competition we'll be facing so we spoke with Jason Iapicco and Pat Glodkowski of the Red Bull's blog Once a Metro to understand a bit more about a team that can say "they were there first" in regards to their other NY counterpart.
Dynamo Theory: The Dynamo are coming off a 1-1 draw with the other NY based club, New York City FC. As a fan of a team that has developed a few rivalries over the years, the geographic rivalries sometimes can feel forced. Is there a rivalry culture between the Red Bulls and NYCFC and if so how is it developing?
Once a Metro: I think you hit it spot on already. Were it not for the proximity and the marketing in what we call our "home turf" the rivalry has been sort of pushed down our throats. But for the most part it seems that the newcomers are doing everything they can to generate (not grow organically) everything about the club. Yet, you can already interpret from that answer that there is some animosity. When we had the derby game - you could tell the fans came in full force to make sure that our boys would put the expansion team in their place, which I believe they did. Regardless, the proximity is really the only reason in the near future that I can attribute to developing a rivalry.
DT: The Red Bulls fell just short of their 2nd MLS Cup appearance last year as the club lost out to the MLS Cup Runner-Ups, the New England Revolution. The Red Bulls are currently sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, with a few games in hand, in the Post Thierry Henry era and seem to be doing just fine as the year nears the halfway mark. What expectations do Red Bull fans have for this year given their current form?
OaM: You had to bring that up, huh? I still have nightmares about Cahill sky-ing that would-be third goal for us, right before Davies stomped over our hopes again. However, moving forward is a really, really tricky thing to comment on. Our fans often are labeled as some of the most abused fanbase in the league. Each year there is huge turnover in personnel - making it seem like we have good chances ahead of us, since we are starting from scratch. This season is no different. We lost our DPs, we lost our coach, and our defense was totally redone, again. As of now I really do not want to comment on future form because knowing this team, we're going to all be saying "That's so Metro..."
DT: Without the masterful passing efforts of Henry finding Bradley Wright-Phillips, the goals for the Red Bulls are coming from a variety of places (BWP included), but notably from Lloyd Sam who appears to have taken a larger role than years prior. How has Sam's emergence impacted the development of the squad?
OaM: Sam seems to be shining this season, finding the net as well as beating every fullback that tries to stop him. The player has definitely become a fan favorite for his work ethic, technique, and understanding of the game. The squad is surely benefiting in training and during matches. But I think there are more key players to keep in mind. BWP is still a solid forward, Dax has his moments but I am incredibly thankful that not only did the team reject a generous offer from Orlando, but also made him captain. Kljestan is still getting used to the team, so in due time I see good things. And of course our back line's regulars are on the young side, yet they still have been holding things down quite well - even the subs as we haven't conceded more than 2 goals in any game. Which leads me to mighty Robles. He is absolutely a fan favorite - especially since he brings out a South Ward (the area all three supporters' sections are located) and has always been conscious of the fans and their sentiments - attending the Town Hall earlier in the year was no easy task. So he definitely gets points there in my book.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1 L to R): Robles; Lawrence, Miller, Ouimette, Duvall; McCarty, Felipe; Grella, Kljestan, Sam; Wright-Philips
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
For my answers to their questions head on over to Once a Metro and check them out!