The 3 games in 7 days stretch is coming to a conclusion Saturday as the Houston Dynamo take on Real Salt Lake the 2nd time this season. The Dynamo felt confident following their 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City and hoped to build on the momentum of the win only to have that momentum stopped following an embarrassing midweek defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. In the game goalkeeper Tyler Deric was red carded for the 2nd time this season in just his 3rd appearance.
It's no secret the Dynamo are searching for answers, but above all else, they're looking for points. A win over Real Salt Lake at home would make up some ground that they lost during the week. While the Dynamo have been abysmal on the road, their home record is actually decent as the club has only lost 1 game at BBVA Compass Stadium and the club will hope to use the atmosphere to get 3 points.
Against the San Jose Earthquakes, Head Coach Owen Coyle trotted out a similar lineup as the one that bested SKC, but with a few modifications to his starting XI. In place of Erick Torres as the center forward, Will Bruin earned the starting nod to match the physicality of San Jose's back line and Abdoulie Mansally also started in place of DaMarcus Beasley who was nursing an injury he picked up against Sporting KC. The lineup looked physically tired and mentally unprepared for the pace and creativity that the Earthquakes brought as the back line and midfielders were continuously bombarded with crosses from both sides of the field, creative 1-2 passing, and shots coming from all over. Despite being outmatched in the first half, the Dynamo were level with the home side at Avaya Stadium thanks to a stunning Ricardo Clark goal.
The second half just got worse. The Earthquakes pounced on early mistakes and put the game to bed quickly while Tyler Deric made the hole even deeper by being ejected for a careless tackle which was avoidable due to Agus's position. Owen Coyle will make lineup changes against Real Salt Lake. He will be forced to due to the strain of the schedule and the pressure of needing a win. I would anticipate a considerably different starting XI.
My Preferred Lineup
In my preferred lineup, we switch to a more robust and defensive minded midfield that is capable of possessing the ball for longer stretches. I want Alex Lima and Giles Barnes to sit on the bench because they both looked exhausted against San Jose. Up top I think the holdup play of Bruin combined with Erick Torres's ability to win balls could complement each other. I don't have a projected lineup because Coyle has stated there will be changes and given the arduous schedule I'm not sure how he'll merge putting out a strong and different lineup with resting players.
This team has the talent to win games but we just haven't seen enough of it this season. How would YOU put the pieces together to create the optimal starting XI against Real Salt Lake?