The Los Angeles Galaxy are coming to Houston with one of the stronger sides in MLS despite potentially missing several key players due to injury or discipline. The Dynamo, having just returned several players from injury and illness, are looking to solidify their position in the Western Conference by snagging three crucial points in the second half of a home stand.
Strong LA Team Brings Challenge
Last we saw the Dynamo they dropped a late goal to draw Seattle this past Sunday. LA is a team of similar strengths and weaknesses but overall they are a bit sounder than Seattle. All puns aside LA does feature a capable offensive attack and a very stout defense. That attack is not without its shortcomings, however. It seems Bruce Arena is not yet satisfied with the output of the unit and has been tinkering with the lineups to find the best combination up top. Mike Magee, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes each have multiple goals, but it’s another stat that reveals a bit more of the disfunction. LA clearly focuses on possession as in most of their contests they have absolutely dominated in time of possession. However the number of shots the club has taken has not closely reflected that domination. Is LA having some struggles with finishing near the goal? Sounds familiar….and they certainly won’t make scoring easy for the Dynamo. As of match time they will have allowed the fewest goals of all teams in MLS. The Galaxy defense is limiting opponents shots effectively and goalkeeper Brian Rowe is performing well, having only allowed 3 balls into the net during live play.
Dynamo Needing Consistency
Houston has a clear strength in the midfield but that unit has been in a bit of disarray lately due to player absences. After the strong start the last two games have seen the club score only 1 goal and earn 1 point in total. All midfield starters were finally able to get back on the pitch against Seattle and played a beautiful first 45’ of football but fell off after halftime. As they come up against another strong midfield group and defense the question will be if they will break out of this rut or continue to struggle to complete a full game. Will Bruin similarly cruised to early season success but has seemingly faded into the background as of late. The Dynamo will most certainly need their big forward to cause disruption on the LA backline and create chances for himself and the likes of Andrew Wenger and Giles Barnes. The defense on the other hand has been improving their level of play over the last few weeks and are coming off their strongest outing of the season. Particularly impressive is the improvement of Jalil Anibaba who at right back has gone from a liability to a reliable defender and winger. He got the assist last week on the super casual goal by Giles Barnes and also managed a good shot on goal himself.
Dynamo fans and players alike are wondering; why can’t this team close out games? Owen Coyle is the man who has to answer that question and who will be scrutinized if these types of performances continue. Second half strategy changes and substitutions have been precursors to late goals conceded in multiple games. Of particular note is the team’s propensity to drop nearly the entire side into the defensive third and then inexplicably fail to mark up on opponents in the box. Against a high caliber MLS team such as the LA Galaxy there will be little room for fundamental errors. This match will likely provide the team with strong tests at all positions and show where the Dynamo stand in the conference race. Look for the black & orange to try to right the ship and get a much needed victory at home.