The Dynamo have been eliminated from postseason contention, so their game against Colorado on Decision Day does not mean anything from a Houston perspective. Of course, it means everything for the Rapids, who need three points and a Galaxy win over FC Dallas to clinch the Supporters’ Shield.
Wade Barrett will probably put out a fairly conservative starting XI with a lot of the lineup mainstays in an effort to keep his job. This is understandable, but I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to see some tinkering. Give more players valuable time on the field, and see if another formation can’t work.
Here are some ideas for Wade to take a look at:
This is one of the more realistic lineups I will show you, mostly because it keeps with the familiar 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 look. Mauro Manotas, Collen Warner, Raul Rodriguez, David Horst, Jalil Anibaba, and Joe Willis are not surprises — although it should be noted that Rodriguez is listed as doubtful for this game, so we could see Anibaba sliding centrally or Keyner Brown starting; Agus is still out.
Andrew Wenger and Cristian Maidana are fighting for their jobs, while Abdoulie Mansally should get a chance to show he belongs with DaMarcus Beasley’s possible imminent departure. He could give us another clue to whether he can challenge for a starting left back job in the future.
Jose Escalante has been promising in his brief time on the field recently, and he has shown that he’s earned more time with the first time. Rob Lovejoy has 469 USL minutes under his belt this season, but he only has 14 in MLS. He’s on the roster, so why not give him a shot?
The first of a two 4-4-2s.
Manotas and Bruin start up top; they played together in a two-forward formation in the latter parts of their game against Seattle a couple weeks ago and it was a resounding success. They were organized defending from the front and seemed to have a good partnership, with one dropping deep and other running the channels in attack. Wade Barrett should give them a chance to partner with each other for 90 minutes.
In central midfield, Alex and Boniek Garcia play in a double-pivot system. I’m not sure how well this would work given the fact that neither are pure No. 6s and Boniek tends to play higher, but each have ball-winning tendencies and and an air of discipline that could allow this to work. It’s worth the experiment in my opinion.
Maidana would provide the playmaking on the left with the opportunity to cut in when the Dynamo are attacking and have Boniek shift out wide. Wenger could easily be substituted for Escalante or Yair Arboleda should Barrett desire another youthful presence.
Kevin Garcia starts at right back. He’s been a regular for RGVFC this season — starting 29 regular season games and going 90 in their playoff game — earning himself a spot on the first team for the final month and a half of the season. He has yet to gather any first team minutes yet, but he could use the experience.
Escalante has been good on the wing in his 109 MLS minutes, but I think he could be equally as good if not better as a second striker. His tactical creativity, inventiveness on the ball, and high work rate could translate well to a striker role. I’m not sure that Manotas would be an adequate partner for him, though, so in order to give Escalante the best chance to succeed, I picked Bruin to play next to him.
Arboleda and Maidana flank Eric Alexander and Warner, who could be an interesting midfield pairing. Keyner Brown gets the start in central defense next to Horst (who needs a good showing on Sunday) and Beasley starts in what could be his last appearance in orange.
This lineup probably won’t be used (unfortunately) but it’s fun to consider. Only Toronto FC uses a 3-5-2 (and they only do it part of the time) so this tactical makeup is something mostly unknown to most MLS teams.
For the Dynamo, there is one major benefit with this formation: the ability to play two forwards up top while also maintaining midfield stability. They are able to keep their trio of central midfielders — and thus able to keep their narrow, suffocating shape — and at the same time keeping their attack humming with a promising striking partnership.
There are a couple obvious downfalls that will play a part in keeping Wade Barrett from using this formation, however. For one, the Dynamo do not have players who can play wing-back, a crucial position in this look. Beasley likely does not have the legs, and I’m not sure about Williams’s attacking capabilities. In addition, wingers like Wenger, Arboleda, and Escalante would not have a role.