The Houston Dynamo stumbled last week when New York City FC came to town which spoiled their winning streak. This time they’ll have a chance to turn it around against the 2nd place team in the West, the Colorado Rapids. The Dynamo offense has looked sharper the last few games as it’s supported Mauro Manotas, notably in his hat-trick game against the Portland Timbers, but sputtered to even register a shot on target against NYCFC. They’ll need to muster up more if they hope to get passed USMNT goalkeeper, Tim Howard.
In our preview of the match we outlined some of Colorado’s road struggles, but we wanted to know more about our Rocky Mountain opponents so we spoke with John Rosch to get the scoop on how his team turned things around from last season.
Dynamo Theory: The last time the Dynamo and the Rapids faced off in the regular season was towards the end of last season. The Dynamo are in a familiar position (outside the playoffs) as last season, but the Rapids have rebounded from a poor season to a fantastic one. What’s been the key(s) to the team’s success?
Burgundy Wave: There have been three factors in my mind: 1) The growth of Pablo--Pablo Mastroeni will be the first to tell you that he was not the best of coaches over the course of his Rapids managerial career. But he spent this past off season in Europe learning and developing as a coach and this has paid off in a better Rapids team, but improved style of play. 2) The growth of the FO--the front office, to be honest, has made a number of poor personnel decisions over the years and have struggled finding the right players for Colorado. Part of that stems from no established style, but another part of it comes from just signing bad players. For every Shkelzen Gashi that the Rapids have signed, there have been plenty of Kevin Harbottle's. 3) The growth of a Style: the Rapids finally have an established style of play. It may not be pretty or beautiful, but it is efficient and pragmatic. They will completely wear you down and force you to not play your game. They are a bear to play against and they are a team, that with their style, can play and defeat anyone in this league.
DT: The Rapids went through a bit of a rough patch in mid-August through early September as they only managed 2 points from 4 games. Since then they have gone on a 4 game unbeaten run with 8 points in 4 games. What changed in that time? Tactics? Personnel? Or just form?
BW: Part of their dip in form was three consecutive games on the road and some injury challenges. And some of it certainly has to do with finding the right formula on the pitch. Who should be playing and where they should be playing. There was a call earlier in the year for the Rapids to play all of their big names on the pitch at the same time. Well, the club has realized that the big names are not necessarily going to spur them on to victory. So you have seen people like Marco Pappa on the bench. Bottom line for the Burgundy Boys: three points. No matter who gets the goals or who plays.
DT: Who is one player that the Dynamo should keep an eye on in this game?
BW: I would really suggest that the Dynamo faithful look for #11 Shkelzen Gashi. He has been nothing short of terrific this year and is the engine that makes the Rapids go. He has great skill on the ball and will take on anyone. Gashi is also not afraid to do the dirty work that is sometimes needed in MLS. In addition, Marlon Hairston is proving that he has what it takes to be a star in this league--and should warrant a USMNT call-up in January
DT: The Dynamo Theory and Burgundy Wave twitter accounts have had their fun in the past, often while the Dynamo were not playing well, which has somehow led to plenty of discussion about My Little Pony. Which pony characters would our USMNT vets, Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley, be?
BW: Ha! Excellent! Yes, the Wave and DT have had a whole lot of fun with My Little Pony. Covering soccer should be fun and we cover our teams out of love for them and the relationship between Dynamo Theory and the Wave is one of the reasons it is so fun to do this.
But for your question: Tim Howard: Howard would have to be Twilight Sparkle--loyal, friendly and a leader all day. Howard block shots to protect the goal like Twilight Sparkle can block spells to protect her fellow Ponies. Plus, Twilight is royalty and if the Rapids win MLS Cup this season, Howard will be treated like royalty in Colorado.
As for DaMarcus Beasley: Beasley has to be Applejack. No question. No Doubt. Applejack is hard working, loyal and would do anything for her friends. Beasley is hard working (the dude NEVER stops working on the field), incredibly loyal to his club and country and I am pretty sure he would bleed orange, red, white and blue. And Beasley has your back--just like Applejack with her friends.
Projected Lineup: Tim Howard, Marc Burch, Axel Sjoberg, Jared Watts, Eric Miller, Sam Cronin, Dillon Powers, Sebastian LeToux, Shkelzen Gashi, Marlon Hairston, Dominique Badji
Predicted Outcome: Houston Dynamo 0:1 Colorado Rapids
For my answers to John’s questions check them out at Burgundy Wave!