The Houston Dynamo's latest road trip has been a mixed basket so far. They fell short in New England in a game that lasted nearly 5 hours long due to weather delays and they managed to draw the Portland Timbers which saw their 2-0 lead crumble to a 2-2 tie. The club now heads to Colorado to face the Rapids who sit at the bottom of the Western Conference table despite boasting the league's best defenses.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the difficulties surrounding the Rapids and how the Dynamo could reap the benefits, but we wanted to know what was going on from a Colorado supporter's perspective so we spoke with John Rosch of the Burgundy Wave to learn more about a side that has clamped down defensively, but really struggled on the offensive end.
Dynamo Theory: The Rapids have managed to hold tightly onto the league's best defense in terms of fewest goals allowed basically since week 1- tied with the Red Bulls at 25 so far, but while the defense has proven stingy the offense has largely struggled on the season. What's been the real disconnect between the two? Is it a style of play issue, personnel, or something else?
Burgundy Wave: To be honest, the disconnect is coming from the sidelines. Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni plays such a defensive game that there have been matches where there have been 4 defenders and 3 defensive midfielders which does not lend itself to great attacking soccer. The D-Mids do not do well in transition and really have struggled getting the ball forward. It also has not helped the Rapids struggle shooting the ball on target, but the large issue still comes from Mastroeni and his lack of tactical acumen and not having the right personnel on the pitch to help the Rapids score goals (and in theory win more games).
DT: Dillon Serna recently said that there was an outside chance for the Rapids to make the playoffs. With a game or two in hand on some of the clubs above them and only 8 points out it's not unreasonable to suggest that if the team does "get hot", as Serna said, it could make a long shot run for the final spot in the Western Conference. Is that sentiment that's shared amongst the Rapids faithful, or is there already an eye on next season?
BW: While I appreciate the optimism from Serna it just seems like a road too far for Colorado. Yes, they are only 8 points out but they have lacked any real consistency to suggest that they could make a run. Now, win the next two at home (vs. Houston and Sporting) then maybe the conversation changes. But for right now, I just do not see the playoffs happening.
The Rapids faithful also knows that playoffs are out of the (realistic) realm of possibility. That eye is clearly on 2016 for many which is why there have been calls to start the young players on the roster rather than veterans that will probably not be here in 2016. The biggest question though for Rapids supporters is whether Mastroeni is the boss next year.
DT: The Dynamo and Rapids both met early in the season as the two combined for 5 total shots on goal in a 0-0 draw. Since then the Dynamo have seen a few changes to the team and have experienced their fair share of ups and downs. What's different about the Rapids since the last time our clubs met?
BW: Well, the Rapids have upgraded their offense with the additional of Kevin Doyle and Luis Solignac so there is more firepower out there, but the biggest change is that the club went from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3. Since the change the Rapids are a modest 4-3 record wise, but that is compared to a 2-6-9 mark before. Needless to say, the formation change has been helpful.
Projected Rapids starting lineup: Formation (4-3-3): Clint Irwin, Maynor Figueroa, Sean St Ledger, Bobby Burling, Drew Moor, Dillon Powers, Sam Cronin, Marcelo Sarvas, Dillon Serna, Kevin Doyle, Gabriel Torres
BW predicted outcome: This feels like a 1-1 tie to me, but for both clubs it is a must win so it should be an exciting match.
For my answers to John's excellent questions head on over to the Burgundy Wave to check them out!