The Houston Dynamo couldn’t pull out a win against the Seattle Sounders earlier this week thanks to a stoppage time goal, but they still managed a draw. A draw against tonight’s opponent, FC Dallas, would still see El Capitán return home to Houston. However, the Dynamo should be looking for more than a draw following the late collapse against Seattle earlier in the week which left a sour note after positive play in the 2nd half.
In our preview of the match we outlined the some of the strengths of FC Dallas, but we wanted to know a bit more about our opponents so we spoke with Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer to get his handle on FC Dallas.
Dynamo Theory: A lot of fans, players, and analysts talk about how a clubs can keep a playoff spot or move into a playoff position, but few talk about how one might hold onto the Supporter Shield territory which comes with a lot of pressure. Every game takes on importance because any slip up and a club below can sneak up and take top spot. What has been Dallas’s approach to maintaining the Supporter’s Shield position?
Big D Soccer: I believe this year it really has come down to a single game approach out of Oscar Pareja and his staff. They continue to preach that they look at one game at a time and try not to focus far into the future. They know, especially right now, that they control their own destiny with regards to the Shield and just about any trophy out there. They also know that they have teams behind them right now that have games-in-hand on them and that all they can do is take care of their own business.
DT: It’s no secret that Fabian Castillo has been a Dynamo-killer in his time with FC Dallas. With Castillo loaned out to Trabzonspor in the Turkish Super Lig, who has stepped into Castillo’s role and how have they performed?
BDS: Yeah, losing Castillo at this time of the year has been pretty killer to the attack. Since his departure, we've seen a small rotation of guys put in his spot on the field. Most of the fans think someone like Ryan Hollingshead could be the guy to step into that role for the short term to help push things enough into the playoffs. Hollingshead is a solid midfielder with a good defensive mind to him, which was something Castillo lacked. He also does well to get on the end of passes and has the motor in him to press teams.
DT: Wednesday night FCD were in Nicaragua playing Real Esteli for 2016/2017 CONCACAF Champion’s league. That’s a lot of travel and although Oscar Pareja didn’t play his strongest XI, he played a pretty strong one. What kind of adjustments might we see Dallas make in Houston?
BDS: We were all pretty thankful to see guys like Mauro Diaz, Maxi Urruti and Walker Zimmerman left in Dallas for that game. To be perfectly honest, I would have been fine with the entire team there except for Diaz. So Saturday night you can expect those three back in the lineup for sure. Pareja also kept guys like Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo and Michael Barrios to start on the bench on Wednesday night to help save their legs a bit. I would expect Pareja to use his strongest lineup available to him in Houston given the rest he was able to give those players.
Projected Lineup: Chris Seitz, Atiba Harris, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz, Ryan Hollingshead, Maxi Urruti
For my answers to Drew’s questions check them out at Big D Soccer!