The rollercoaster season for the Houston Dynamo has had far more falls than ups exemplified by a satisfying 2-0 performance against Sporting Kansas City and then 5 days later a 3-1 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. The team will now face Real Salt Lake who the Dynamo faced just 2 weeks prior at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Dynamo took an early lead but small mistakes in front of goal allowed for momentum to swing back in favor of the home side as they took the game 2-1 in part due to brilliant goalkeeping by Nick Rimando.
Poor possession, turnovers, and an unorganized defense has helped opponents increase the volume and quality of their chances against the Dynamo. Houston will need to be smart against RSL, who are coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss to league leaders the Colorado Rapids. Both sides will want points coming off losses, but Houston should be the hungrier side if they want to make up any ground in the Western Conference.
In our preview of the match we discussed our last win and keys to succeeding at home, but we wanted to know what our opponent has been up to since we last faced off against so we spoke with Randal Serr at RSL Soapbox to find out what to expect in our season's first rematch.
Dynamo Theory: Joao Plata is a top player in the league at the forward position, but has missed out on the starting lineup the last few weeks due to injury. What is his status for starting in Houston and what does Plata bring to the entire squad as a player?
RSL Soapbox: I fully expect Plata to start against Houston this weekend. He put in about 30-35 minutes against Colorado last weekend off the bench and most people expected him to start last week. So if he doesn't start this time around, it will be very surprising. The real question is if he will return to the form he had before his short-term injury. As you alluded to, he was playing like a MVP candidate with a direct influence on virtually every goal that RSL scored to that point.
Dynamo Theory: While the Dynamo have had their road woes, they've silently built a respectable home record having only lost 1 game at BBVA Compass Stadium all year (which is somewhat surprising given our overall record). How will RSL overcome the atmosphere in Houston to come away with points on the road?
RSL Soapbox: RSL learned to overcome the atmosphere in Houston over the past couple of years. For the first time in a long time, RSL has had pretty consistent success in Texas for the past while. They key to winning this time around will be hunger and veteran experience. Salt Lake has an interesting mix of veterans and youth in the club at the moment so if the younger players are up to the task, I think RSL can and should come away with at least a point.
Dynamo Theory: 3 - It hasn't been very long since Real Salt Lake and Houston last met, but given that both sides are coming off a loss what kind of game do you predict? A physical bout? A game with a lot of pace?
RSL Soapbox: I expect RSL to keep their heads down and continue to put in the work required to win in this league. On the Real Salt Lake radio show this week, all indications and expectations are that if RSL is going to get a win on the road over the course of their current five-game road trip, this is the time to do it. Of course, that is easier said than done and Houston is still a formidable opponent on their home field. Clearly, the results bear that out. But RSL has been very good this year and needs to get things back on track after a loss in Colorado. The reason I feel like RSL has the upper hand is that from afar, Houston seems like they are in a bit of turmoil with regards to their coach and not knowing exactly who the best XI are. RSL is in a pretty stable position, so if they don't get a tie at least, it will leave the RSL fans in a bit of a frenzy.
For my answers to Randal's questions please check them out at RSL Soapbox!