The Houston Dynamo are coming off their first MLS win in 5 league games and their first win of the Wade Barrett era as they bested the Philadelphia Union 1-0 at home thanks to a stoppage time set piece goal by Cristian Maidana. The team will now hope to snap another streak with their first road win of the season against Orlando City SC. Orlando City SC currently sits 1 spot out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but has just 3 more points than the Dynamo (we must miss that Eastern Conference, huh). OCSC is similar to the Dynamo in a lot of ways, terrible on the road and pretty good at home. Although in Orlando's case, not just pretty good, they're unbeaten.
The team will need to ride the confidence from beating the Union, the top team in the East, in order to beat a team that hasn't lost at home. For Wade Barrett that begins with his personnel selections and he has plenty of options to choose from. Erick Torres has rejoined the Dynamo following his time with the U-23 Mexican National Team. Cubo has only played 14 minutes + stoppage time under Wade Barrett in our draw on the road to FC Dallas so Cubo could make an appearance off the bench, Barrett may decide it's best to acclimate the young striker to his system and expectations first.
Houston also recently lost two depth pieces in David Rocha and Leonel Miranda. Rocha wanted to end his contract prematurely in order to spend time with his family at home while Miranda's loan contract with the Dynamo expired and the team was unable to complete terms for an extension. Rob Lovejoy remains sidelined, but he would have been unlikely to see playing time with the Dynamo 1st team anyways. The rest of the club at this point is healthy and available against Orlando City SC which provides plenty of variations to choose from, specifically at the forward and winger positions.
My Projected Lineup
There really isn't a lot of reason to change things up going into this game. The team is coming off one of its best results all season and changing things to adjust to Orlando might create more problems than solve them. The 4-1-4-1, when executed properly, allows for a lot of pressure up the field which could take the ball away from Orlando's playmakers and force counter attacks in advanced areas of the field. Collen Warner's ability to stay back and provide cover for players has been a large part of the success of this as Ricardo Clark and Alex Lima can put the pressure on higher up the field without worrying about much of a loss defensively.
There are a few adjustments we could make though, but I would advocate largely keeping the formation together since it appears to be finally catching on. The wing positions and forward positions are the most fluid in terms of personnel. Will Bruin could vacate his starting center forward position for either Cubo Torres or Mauro Manotas, but Manotas makes a much stronger case over Cubo. Also possible is that Barnes takes the CF spot and Manotas moves to RW/RM, a position he played quite well during preseason. Shifting to the left/left center of the field Cristian Maidana made a case to get a start again which could mean Maidana coming in centrally over Alex Lima. That would either push Alex out of the lineup or push him left which would put Boniek on the bench.
I'm not convinced that Barrett wants to make any of these moves at this point as Alex, Boniek, Bruin, and Barnes have all played well enough to earn another start. But things are far from concrete so we'll see how Barrett chooses his XI. But we wanted to know how you'd line up the team. There are a lot of possibilities to choose from so let us know below and feel free to share your formation and starting squad in the comments below.