The Houston Dynamo are coming off of a needed 2-0 win over rivals Sporting Kansas City and are hoping to begin their first winning streak of the season against the San Jose Earthquakes and their former manager Dominic Kinnear. Against SKC the Dynamo had capitalized on their opportunities with two fantastic goals by Giles Barnes and Andrew Wenger while keeping their visiting opponents off the score sheet by finally showcasing urgency within the 18 yard box. The team was aided by Tyler Deric's return to the starting lineup, just his 2nd match of the season. Deric's first return to the Dynamo starting XI was marred by a poor challenge against Columbus Crew SC which saw him ejected from the match. Additionally Erick Torres got his chance in the starting lineup and produced an assist which should help his case for additional minutes including starting time. The win, especially over a rival, felt great, but with three games in just a week the Dynamo will need to rely on their momentum as well as their depth in order to string some needed wins together to escape the basement of the Western Conference.
In our preview of the match we discussed the importance of back-to-back wins, but we wanted to know more about the club managed by our former coach so we spoke with Nerdy Gales of Center Line Soccer to gain insight about the San Jose Earthquakes.
Dynamo Theory: The San Jose Earthquakes haven't had much luck with their playoff ambitions the last few seasons and they finished just 1 place shy of the final playoff spot in the 2015 MLS season. What is the benchmark for what would make this year a success and what would be considered a failure?
Center Line Soccer: This is Kinnear's second season at the helm, so he's had the opportunity to improve the squad with the roster additions I outline below. Consequently everyone's expectations are that much higher than 2015. It's the "MLS Cup Playoffs or Bust" as far as the fans are concerned, and that will define the cutoff for success, or failure.
For individual players, it remains to be seen whether there's another Golden Boot in local hero Chris Wondolowski's future. Quincy Amarikwa (doubtful for Wednesday) is pesky enough to deflect attention away from Wondo, which frees him up in the box. Look for Innocent or Chad Barrett to do the same - most likely off the bench.
DT: For fans not familiar with the Earthquakes, who are some players that have helped the club in their current 5th place position in the competitive Western Conference.
CLS: Kinnear has made some useful additions: Argentine Andres Imperiale, an experienced defender, has helped spell Guatemalan defender Victor Bernardez and Goodson (currently out with back problems). Midfielder Alberto Quintero joined his Panamanian national team compatriot Anibal Godoy, and alongside Matias Perez Garcia the Earthquakes have a solid South American cadre of players.
Shea Salinas has been in and out of the starting lineup for the past few games - and when he's been used off the bench he's been very effective at challenging tired defenders. And no, I STILL don't know what is happening with Steven Lenhart - safe to say he won't be in this weekend's lineup.
Finally, Simon Dawkins, a fan favorite from the 2012 Earthquakes squad that won the Supporters' Shield, has returned as a DP - he's taken some time to get back into the form that we saw back then, but now he's off the mark, scoring on the road in Philadelphia, and only just stymied by the crossbar in last week's loss in Seattle. It's taken a while, but he's settling in nicely for the rest of the 2016 season.
DT: Avaya Stadium has truly become a fortress as the Earthquakes have put together a 4 wins and a draw at home over some top-level competition. What has made Avaya different over the ‘Quakes poor (by comparison) performances on the road?
CLS: The fans have also settled in nicely for the 2016 season - and with many of them found at the longest outdoor bar in North America; the only place with more shots than Wondo. The Avaya Stadium atmosphere is electric, and with a large season ticket fan base, the knowledgeable fans are raucously supporting their squad.
And the players are responding - the whole squad remains center field after the game and walks down the field to applaud the supporters' groups. Many collect their kids from the sideline, and sign plenty of autographs. The players seem to be responding to the support they're getting, and the fans' proximity to the field enables them to see, even feel, the players' intense level of effort. It's an intangible metric, but I feel that the players (especially the younger players) and fans are feeding off each other's energy.
Projected Lineup: David Bingham; Shaun Francis; Victor Bernardez; Marvell Wynne; Kofi Sarkodie; Shea Salinas; Anibal Godoy; Simon Dawkins; Alberto Quintero; Chad Barrett; Chris Wondolowski.
Predicted Outcome: Earthquakes 1-0 Houston Dynamo.