The Houston Dynamo are still struggling for wins, especially on the road, and the squad under interim manager Wade Barrett hopes to find some fortune as they head to Montreal to take on the Impact. Last week we saw the Dynamo season in microcosm as the team once again got the lead, but failed to protect it as they drew their 8th game on the season.
Tonight the Dynamo will play 5th place in the Eastern Conference Montreal a team looking to advance higher in its Conference and a team that is very good at home. Houston still has a bit of an identity crisis, but perhaps it can find its form and finally capture that elusive away win.
In our preview of the match we discussed how
unlikely it will be that we'll see the new Dynamo acquisitions featured, but we wanted to know more about our opponents so we spoke with John Richan of Mount Royal Soccer to gain insight about his club and one of their former players that now dons our colors.
Dynamo Theory: The Montreal Impact finished the 2015 MLS campaign 3rd in the Eastern Conference and were knocked out of the playoffs in the Conference Semifinals by MLS Cup Runners-Up Columbus Crew SC. The Impact currently sit in 5th place in the East. Is the club operating above or below preseason expectations and what does it need to do set the bar high for next season?
Mount Royal Soccer: I like this question and I feel like I give some version of this answer every week! In all honestly I think this team is performing about where it should in the standings. Even though the Impact are currently sitting in 5th place in the East, they are only 6 points out of first place with a game or two in hand on many of the teams ahead of them. I think the finish to the season last year, playoff run, Drogba's arrival, and the start to this season blew supporters expectations out of proportion for this year. Having said all this, I think the club is probably performing roughly in line with preseason expectations but below the expectations of supporters. The squad has come a long way in terms of skill and depth since joining MLS and I imagine expectations will only continue to grow into next season. The next few months will be interesting.
DT: The Houston Dynamo recently acquired Eric Alexander from the Impact in exchange for general and targeted allocation money. What kind of role did Alexander have with the Impact and what can he contribute to the Dynamo?
MRS: This question is less easy to answer. Alexander was acquired from Montreal in a trade with the New York Red Bulls last season, and I believe in many ways was just seen as a throw in, as Oyongo was the piece the Impact were really interested in. I have wrote on a couple occasions that I thought Alexander could provide more than he ever did with Montreal. In 2015 he saw virtually no time, with Frank Klopas leaving him on the bench. In 2016 Alexander did play a slightly bigger role although found it difficult to fit into an already crowded central midfield. At his best I think he is a very durable player that plays a solid role winning balls and distributing the ball efficiently - at worst he is a very respectable bench player.
DT: The Impact have only lost 2 games out of 10 at home while the Dynamo are currently looking for their first win away from BBVA Compass Stadium. How can the Dynamo hope to get a result in a relatively difficult place to play?
MRS: If the Dynamo can find a way to clog up the midfield on Saturday evening they might have a good shot at getting something out of the game. The last month Montreal have either put in really amazing performances or fallen flat on their face. If Houston can neutralize Nacho Piatti and take advantage of their set pieces anything is possible. On the plus side for the Dynamo, they will not have to prepare for Didier Drogba, as he is suspended.
Projected Lineup: Bush - Toia - Ciman - Cabrera - Oyongo - Bernardello - Donadel - Piatti - Shipp - Salazar - Oduro
Predicted Outcome: 2-1 Montreal
For my answers to John's questions check them out at Mount Royal Soccer!