The Dynamo have exceeded everyone’s expectations this year. Following three playoff-less seasons and hitting rock bottom in 2016, Wilmer Cabrera has taken this team to old heights and made one of the best Houston teams to date. Houston has already knocked out a strong team in Sporting Kansas City, as well as upsetting the top seed in the Western Conference in the Portland Timbers.
In Leg 1, Seattle took over at BBVA Compass Stadium, beating the 10-man Dynamo 2-0. The Sounders scored one and put Houston under pressure, eventually causing Jalil Anibaba to make a reckless tackle in the box, getting himself sent off and awarding a penalty to the Sounders. Joe Willis came up big and saved the PK, keeping the deficit low. Will Bruin, of course, added to the lead in injury time of the first half. Houston was able to hold off Seattle in the 2nd half, but couldn’t put a goal in themselves.
Philippe Senderos came off with a slight injury, which could be a problem for Houston now that Anibaba is unavailable. However with Leonardo getting to play in the first leg, fans can be hopeful that the center back spots will be solid. As for the right back position, if Senderos is healthy, Adolfo Machado is the likely candidate, he has been solid there before, and starts there for the Panamanian national team. Other options include Kevin Garcia and Dylan Remick, with Remick being the most likely following Cabrera’s substitution choices in the first leg.
Other noteworthy suspensions include Alberth Elis and Seattle’s Roman Torres, both for yellow card accumulation. Both will be missed by their respective sides, however Houston may be better off. The rotation Cabrera has going on with his front three has worked all season, and a starting front line of Erick Cubo Torres, Mauro Manotas, and Romell Quioto can make up for the lack of Elis. Even veteran Vicente Sanchez can come in and make a huge difference. Seattle has other center backs, however none quite as strong for them as Roman Torres for them, he’ll be missed but I have no doubt they will make up for the loss.
It’s do or die for Houston at this point. Reports are showing that Cabrera and his men are in high spirits, but it will all need to be shown on the pitch. A win by multiple goals is what the men in orange need to send it into overtime or leave victorious, a completely doable feat. This would also be Houston’s 5th visit to the MLS cup after 7 seasons in the playoffs, which is an incredible stat.
The match kicks off at 9:30 pm CT on Thursday.