The Houston Dynamo fell 2-0 in a lengthy affair to the New England Revolution in a match that featured plenty of weather delays and slick artificial turf. While the Dynamo seemed to have control over the 1st half of action, they never could take advantage of their opportunities and were easily beaten by the quick pace of the Revs in the 2nd half.
This week, the Dynamo are looking up at the Portland Timbers in the playoff standings and desperately need points in order to remain in the playoff chase. This is the 2nd match of a 3 game road trip and it is easily the most important with Portland being the only team ahead of them in the Western Conference standings of their road trip games.
Against the Revs, the Dynamo utilized a similar lineup that they had in their previous win over the San Jose Earthquakes, but Owen Coyle elected to put defensive midfielder Nathan Sturgis, who had served his red card suspension against the Quakes, back in to create a more defensive oriented midfield as Sturgis partnered with DM Luis Garrido in central midfield. While the defense largely held up, thanks to a few Tyler Deric heroics, the offense struggled to gain momentum and rarely threatened Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Raúl Rodríguez also missed out on the action as a late scratch to injury and AJ Cochran filled in which affected some of the Dynamo's ability to make creative passes from the back.
Coyle's Starting XI against the New England Revolution
The Dynamo will have Alex Lopez and Rob Lovejoy back as options for selection, but Giles Barnes, Will Bruin, and DaMarcus Beasley all sat out of training on Tuesday, though the team remains hopeful that they'll be available for selection against the Timbers.
The Dynamo have not been one of the better teams on the road this year, despite quality efforts here and there, but will need to come away with at least a point over Portland to remain competitive for a playoff spot following Seattle's devastating win over Orlando City SC. The Dynamo will need to come up with ways to score on the road, which has been a struggle for much of the season. That could mean opting for a more offensively minded midfield - only 1 DM, which could lend opportunities to Leonel Miranda or Alex Lopez to rejoin the starting XI, or could feature a 3 headed attack with Bruin, Barnes, and Erick "Cubo" Torres. Coyle could always play it by ear and defend early and attack late with his use of substitutions as they attempt to frustrate Portland's creative midfield from being a factor early in the match.
How would you line up the Dynamo if you were in charge? Do you go for an attacking style that could finally yield goal production on the road, potentially at the cost of losing the midfield battle? Or do you stick with the familiar XI which has helped the Dynamo produce a 2-1-1 record over their last 4? Let us know how you'd line them up and discuss your picks in the comments below.