Seattle is coming to town to face the good guys in orange this upcoming Sunday afternoon. The Sounders are looking to improve on an anemic offensive output while the Dynamo are moving past a hiccup in their last outing; a shutout coming on the heels of a prolific three game streak.
Sounders Seeking Offense
Seattle, goal starved and hungry, are coming to Houston after struggling to find an offensive identity through the early part of the season. The attack saw some success last week against Montreal but is still far from settled. They likely are feeling the effects of losing their top producer from 2014 and 2015, Obafemi Martins, who late in the offseason left for the Chinese Super League. Filling that void has mostly been Andreas Ivanschitz and Osvaldo Alonso, though with only a goal each neither have seemed to fall easily into the role. Dempsey is not helping out much either as he also has added just one goal in several wildly inefficient outings. On 16 shots only 4 have been on target. No other Sounder has scored. Yes, that’s right, the respected Sounders club has only scored 3 goals so far this season.
Defense Ready for Dempsey?
Despite the shortcomings for the Sounders this season there is no getting around the fact that Dempsey is still among the most talented and aggressive strikers in MLS. Add that into how the Dynamo defense struggled last week against Vancouver’s quick attack, continuing a trend from the first three outings, and it could spell trouble. The back line of David Horst and Raul Rodriguez are certainly susceptible to Dempsey’s speed in straight on attacks or through ball plays. Luckily the Dynamo have a young vet in Joe Willis who is quietly having a nice season so far in front of the net. Playing for the injured Tyler Deric, Willis has amassed 21 saves on 29 shots to lead all of MLS. Yikes. Can a goalkeeper get a little help here? Guys? Hello? Willis’ success rate is pretty average but he has made several outstanding stops in 1 on 1 situations and is doing an admirable job. Outside we have yet to see too much from Damarcus Beasley and Jalil Anibaba, at least on the defensive side. Beasley is getting fouled a ton, which is no mistake, picks many a pocket each game and is also a pretty reliable stopper on the cross. Still, several of those cross attempts are successfully making it into the box.
The Dynamo mids should get a boost from the return of Giles Barnes after missing a few games with a strained hammy. There’s been no official word yet that Barnes is back, but he did help win a relay race earlier this week…..that’s gotta be a good sign. The likely starting five of Barnes, Alex, Ricardo Clark, Chaco Maidana and Andrew Wenger have shown a lot of good chemistry. If I were Owen Coyle my strategy would be simple. Mark a man on Dempsey in the middle with a speedier back, possibly Rodriguez, and limit the chances he gets in the defensive third by limiting passes from Alonso, Ivanschitz and the rest of the Seattle midfield. With the ball the Houston midfield may vary the attack between patient possession play and the counter. Seattle does have a rather stingy defense that is doing a fine job of limiting their opponents chances. Coyle’s crew will need to test the the defense for weaknesses at every point. Last week’s shut out was certainly disappointing after the record setting three game streak, but so long as the Dynamo don’t see two of those in a row there’s little to worry about.