The Houston Dynamo are hoping to put together a late, desperate run for the playoffs following their 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City earlier this week. The Dynamo have a few things going their way besides momentum from the win. The team has regained many players from injury including their star left back DaMarcus Beasley along with the versatile midfielder Alex Lima. Luis Garrido will also be available after serving his yellow card accumulation suspension. Oscar Boniek Garcia will not be available. Boniek, who lined up at right back against SKC, received his walking papers after seeing his 2nd yellow.
The matches against Colorado this year have been anything but exciting. Early in the season the two battled to a 0-0 stalemate, the Dynamo picked up a 1-0 Open Cup victory at BBVA Compass Stadium in a game more memorable for the weather delay and street flooding, and the Dynamo fell 2-1 on the road in one of the more sour moments of the year. Still, players like Rasheed Olabiyi stepping into a starting role in our win over Kansas City could provide a bit of spark needed to beat one of the better defenses in the league this year.
In our preview of the match we discussed some of the lineup issues facing the Dynamo and other matches of importance to a Dynamo playoff run, but we wanted to check in with our Rocky Mountain friends so we spoke with John Rosch of the Burgundy Wave to see what's up with the Rapids.
Dynamo Theory: In our previous question exchange I mentioned Dillon Serna's fiery words about how the team, in theory, could make a playoff push if they got hot at the right time. Since then, the Rapids beat Houston and Sporting Kansas City, but dropped a few results following a mini-hot streak. Is it time to clear the benches and let the young players see playing time, or does Pablo Mastroeni play his 1st team through the end of the year?
Burgundy Wave: Well, the supporters would love to see younger players get a proper run out instead of the "grizzled veterans" that PM seems to prefer, but I think Mastroeni will not play the young guys at all this year as he seems to favor the older players. The party line has been the Rapids are in the playoff hunt until they are officially eliminated and therefore they should play their first choice lineup as long as possible. Despite the mini-hot streak that the Rapids were on, their fate was sealed when they had just two wins in their first 17.
DT: The Rapids have struggled mightily over the years in Houston (and Houston has struggled to win in Colorado) picking up just a single win at the Dynamo's former home, Robertson Stadium. What is it about Houston that makes it such a daunting place for the Rapids? Feel free to speculate why the Dynamo struggle in Colorado so I can pass the word along.
BW: It's funny, there are places that the Rapids really struggle and Houston is one of them. I think the Rapids struggles are largely due the conditions that are presented in Houston--the heat and humidity. The Rapids (and a lot of teams) seem to wilt towards the end of games in Houston while the Dynamo wait this out content to absorb pressure. Any victories that happen in Houston for the Rapids are more fluky then the Rapids actually outplaying the Dynamo.
As for the Dynamo in Colorado, I think the Rapids feel more comfortable at home and are more willing to be on the front foot and press the game. The Altitude certainly is a factor, but I think it comes down to the Rapids playing a more up tempo and relaxed style at home and that can wear some teams down.
DT: While neither of our teams are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, many Dynamo fans already have an eye (or both eyes) on the offseason regardless of how this season turns out. Is there a similar feeling in the Rapids camp and what offseason changes do you expect to see?
BW: The Rapids are out of the playoffs and they have been since the halfway point of the year when they were 2-6-9. This is a lost season and supporters gave up dreams for the playoffs a long time ago. As for the off-season, Coach Pablo Mastroeni should lose his job and President Tim Hinchey and Vice President of Soccer Operations/Technical Director should be (at the very least) on the hot seat. This club has been completely destroyed in the last two years by putting their faith in a coach who is completely out of his league and a front office who is too afraid to admit they made a mistake.
In the off-season, I expect a number of players to want to leave the club as this is not what they signed up for and many players have underperformed based on what was expected of them. The issue with this is that the club grabbed 15 new players last off-season with the idea that the team would be better. They are not. This is a team in turmoil and there is almost no hope that things will get better in 2015.
Projected Lineuped: (4-2-3-1) Clint Irwin, Maynor Figueroa, Jared Watts, Bobby Burling, James Riley, Sam Cronin, Lucas Pittinari, Dillon Serna, Dillon Powers, Gabriel Torres, Luis Solignac.
Predicted Lineup: Houston 1 - 0 Colorado.
For my answers to John's excellent questions hit up Burgundy Wave to check them out!