The Houston Dynamo needed a win at home against the San Jose Earthquakes before departing on a 3 game road trip and they walked out of BBVA Compass Stadium with a 2-1 win and 3 big Western Conference points. The win puts us just behind the Seattle Sounders in the final playoff spot in the West, so getting results on the road will be key to their playoff hopes.
Tonight, the Dynamo will bump heads with their old MLS Cup rival, the New England Revolution, who currently holds the same number of points as the Dynamo (31), but are 5th in the Eastern Conference standings - because that's how things shake out in the West. The Revolution have been, also like the Dynamo, wildly inconsistent in their performances, but are looking to string together some positive results which means they're looking for the win against their old MLS Cup foe.
In our preview of the match we discussed key contributors for the Revolution and other big Western Conference games that could help the Dynamo catch up in the playoff hunt, but we wanted to learn about more about our old rival so we spoke with Jake Catanese from the Bent Musket about what's going on with the Revs.
Dynamo Theory: The Revolution stopped the bleeding of a 5 game losing streak that dated back to June 21st against DC United and put together a nice run winning 2 and drawing 1 of your last 3 games including important wins over Toronto FC and New York City FC. What clicked to start turning results around in New England's favor?
The Bent Musket: Basically Lee Nguyen decided he wanted to beat New York City FC, scored the only goal of the match in the 1-0 Revs win in a similar fashion to how he ended another long Revs losing streak last year when he scored twice against Colorado. During that five-game skid the Revs had two matches altered by red cards against Vancouver and DC, Jose Goncalves' red late against the Red Bulls didn't change the outcome there but it forced Jay Heaps to shuffle his backline a lot during the losing streak. Ideally the Revs should be a defense first, counter attacking team but they have so many ways to score offensively all they've lacked has been some consistency.
DT: Only a handful of teams have allowed more goals than the Revs so far this season, but their offense has provided plenty of support and helped keep the team in playoff contention. What things are working for the offense and what's not working for the defense? Is it a style of play issue, personnel issue, or is it way more complicated (in which case, short version please)?
TBM: We already mentioned the Revolution's constantly shuffling backline, aside from Chris Tierney at left back it's been a rotating door on the backline due to suspensions, injuries and ineffectiveness. The Revs were shorthanded at center back when A.J. Soares left for Norway and then lost utility defender Darrius Barnes to long-term injury. London Woodberry had a good streak where his crossing really helped the offense but he has lost his place to veteran Jeremy Hall during the Revs recent run.
On offense, the Revs are so deep that youngsters Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe have been coming off the bench and even Juan Agudelo has been coming on as a substitute as well. Getting Jermaine Jones back will be huge for the Revs going forward and Lee Nguyen has been playing some of his best soccer recently as he looks to regain his 2014 MVP form.
DT: The team currently sits in 5th in the playoff standings in the Eastern Conference, the same position they ended the year last season which saw them run all the way to the MLS Cup Finals. Did the MLS Cup run raise expectations for the fan base and if so is the team meeting those expectations the way it's played so far in the year?
TBM: I wrote before the beginning of the season that I thought the Revolution were a CONCACAF Champion's League team, so yes, as far as I'm concerned those were the expectations. Whether it was winning the Open Cup, MLS Cup or the Eastern Conference, I think many people expected the Revs near the top of the table in the East, and the playoffs were assumed. Jones led them on a tremendous run to end 2014 and there's no reason that can't happen again but the bigger issue for the Revs fan base has been the lack of summer signings. As the rest of the East has improved with several big signings the Revs are banking on Jones' recovery to bolster a backline that hasn't played its best this season.
Projected Lineup for the Revs: 4-2-3-1 / Shuttleworth; Tierney, Goncalves, Farrell, Hall; Jones, Caldwell; Agudelo, Nguyen, Bunbury; Davies
- I don't expect Jones to go much more than an hour, so expect to see either Andy Dorman or Daigo Kobayashi depending on how the game is going for New England.
Predicted Outcome: I'd love to see a 2-0 win for the Revs at home against the generally despised Dynamo.
For my answers to Jake's questions hit up The Bent Musket to check them out!