The transfer window is officially closed, and the Houston Dynamo have their signings in place. 20-year old Colombian winger Yair Arboleda, Costa Rican center back Keyner Brown, and former Impact midfielder Eric Alexander will go down as the biggest acquisitions of the window, although the trading of Giles Barnes was the most important move by a mile.
Arboleda and Brown will not be available in Montreal due to Canadian visa issues, but Christian Lucatero and Zach Steinberger will be on the gameday roster after being recalled from loan. Jose Escalante — loaned from RGVFC — has visa issues as well and will only be available for a USL match in Oklahoma along with Arboleda.
I'm hoping we at least get to see Lucatero and Steinberger get minutes at the Stade Saputo.
1. Key on Piatti
As you may or may not know, Didier Drogba received a (however contentious) red card last weekend against D.C. United, so the Montreal Impact's biggest star name and one of their best attackers will be absent from this match. Despite the Impact's surprisingly good record without him in the lineup, this is a big relief for the Dynamo, who still could be without center backs Agus and Raul Rodriguez.
Nevertheless, the shorthanded Dynamo defense will have a tough opponent to deal with. Ignacio Piatti — who has a serious argument for the MVP award — has the talent to change the course of the game singlehandedly, and Houston have to be able to keep a defender on him at all times and make sure he can't break into the box.
The Argentine will play either on the left wing or centrally — he was in the middle last week — and is equally dangerous from either position. He can beat any defender in a 1v1 matchup, and he is very underrated as a playmaker and distributor, as he has five assists on the season.
The ability of the Dynamo to stop him from having a major impact on this game could very well determine which way this match goes.
2. Get behind the midfield
The Impact have faced a similar problem this season as the Dynamo previously did. They have been beaten by teams due to their lack of a pure defensive midfielder.
Marco Donadel is usually the player who sits the deepest in midfield, and he is often beaten for pace, as he is now 33. D.C. United took advantage of this difficulty multiple times last week by getting in behind Donadel and going against the Impact's backline, who were often overwhelmed.
This is just one example:
United consistently got numbers into the box and came up with really good opportunities on goal by getting the ball into Zone 14 and sending numerous runners into the box. Luciano Acosta acted as the distributor, and the whole system worked very well.
This is what the Dynamo should do, provided that newly-acquired defensive midfielder Hernan Bernadello doesn't start. I wouldn't be surprised if Cristian Maidana got a start in midfield with Alex suspended.
3. Play the kids
They've brought up good young players, and they've given them chances to train with the first team. Now, it's time to put them in a real game — not necessarily as a starter — and let them gain valuable experience. It gives the coaching staff the chance to see how they do in a higher quality and faster paced environment, and it helps them decide where these players can best fit in the future.
For a team in the position that the Dynamo are in right now, this is the most important thing.