The Houston Dynamo were able to see out the game against Sporting Kansas City in extra time thanks to an Alberth Elis goal orchestrated by Vicente Sanchez. One opponent down, the Portland Timbers to go. The Dynamo will now face the top team in the West, the Portland Timbers in a two game series to see who advances to the Conference Finals.
The Timbers had a bye week and will be well rested while Wilmer Cabrera’s men will only have a few days rest. That will definitely test Cabrera’s lineup decisions along with a recent and unforuntately timed injury bug afflicting the Dynamo. Last week against SKC, Cabrera used a 4-3-3 with Alex, Cubo Torres, and Alberth Elis up top. I think that Elis is a given to start, but the rest of the options are up in the air. Alex, who came off injured against SKC, is unlikely to get the go and I’d anticipate Romell Quioto to take his place at LW. I’m tempted to say that Cubo Torres starts again, but I have to think that Mauro Manotas is given the start at CF unless Vicente Sanchez is miraculously handed the role. I think Manotas gets it, I hope Sanchez gets it. Either of them are an upgrade over Cubo in my book, even though Cubo had some good moments against SKC.
In the midfield, Juan David Cabezas, Tomas Martinez, and Ricardo Clark continued to show some growth together and I think they’re the three to start. Cabezas and Clark work well together defensively and are capable of pushing the ball to Martinez or out wide to start counters. Martinez has excelled at pushing up and pressuring defenders in the same way Alex did in the same role earlier in the year.
Defensively is another tough area for the Dynamo with Leonardo possibly missing out in central defense. DaMarcus Beasley is a lock at LB along with Adolfo Machado in central defense. Philippe Senderos should get the call to fill in for Leonardo, should Leonardo not be match fit. At RB I think Jalil Anibaba is finally given a start as he held his own against SKC.
My Projected Starting Lineup
So who do you want to see start against the Timbers in the first leg of the Conference Semifinals? Let us know and feel free to share your choices in the comments section below!