The Houston Dynamo go back out on the road after dismantling Real Salt Lake to the tune of 5-1 earlier this week. While the Dynamo have been the opposite of perfect on the road, they were able to find some success last Sunday when they drew FC Dallas in Frisco, TX, the team’s only point away from Houston. They’ll hope to carry that success with them when they play the Seattle Sounders in Seattle. The teams met once earlier this year in Houston where the Dynamo were able to come away with a 2-1 win.
In our preview of the match we talked about the earlier meeting and some players that won’t be available, but we wanted to see what’s been going on with the Sounders since we last met so we spoke with Dave Clark at Sounder at Heart to see what’s going on with the Sounders.
Dynamo Theory: At 16 points the Seattle Sounders are by no means out of a strong run to the top of the table, but currently occupy the 8th spot on the Western Conference table. What’s one of the biggest contributing issues for inconsistent results for Seattle?
Sounder at Heart: Normally I like to use paragraphs. This may be better as a list
- Jordan Morris played with a bum hammy and then a borked ankle. He lacked the speed that is his signature tool..
- There were games when the Sounders started a 4th string, a 5th string and a 6th string defender.
- The fourth starting attacker in their 4-2-3-1 wasn't really claimed, but instead rotated through because none of Alvaro Fernandez, Harry Shipp or Will Bruin made it obvious that it should be them getting the start.
- Everyone was tired. Similar to Portland and Columbus last year, the Sounders had no time to recover from the MLS Cup run. This was made especially difficult with four callups to January Camp.
- A stupid schedule heavy on road games to start
- A roster with only 25 players and one of those is on loan
All of these reasons exist, and many were known before the season started. None on their own would break a team. All of them together has lead to a rather mediocre start to 2017.
DT: Coming into this game both sides had midweek matches and some players have been called into their national team camps which could make lineup decisions for the managers more difficult. What kind of adjustments will Brian Schmetzer make and is anyone expected to miss the game call-ups?
SaH: Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey are both gone. Will Bruin has been wearing a large brace in practices after dislocating his elbow. Bruin might be back, but would be a bit limited. If Bruin cannot start the team is without their top three forwards and would be down to Seyi Adekoya again. Adekoya is kind of a lesser version of Morris - fast, likes to run from wide spaces, a bit goal dangerous. But he's not ready. The team also has some injuries and fitness issues that will limit the rest of the lineup. This is one of those games the team might try to steal, even if at home.
DT: At the beginning of the year we talked about Nicolas Lodeiro being a potential MVP candidate being capable of 20+ assists and 12+ goals. While he’s assisting at a decent rate, it isn’t among the leaders at the moment and his scoring should be somewhat concerning as we enter summer. While certainly a dangerous player every time he gets the ball, what does Seattle need to do to get Lodeiro producing? Maybe he’s just waiting until the second half of the season like last year where he was unstoppable.
SaH: Part of Nico's problem in racking up those big money counting stats is that Jordan Morris played through a borked ankle and the team as a whole just isn't finishing as a expected. If Morris has his speed than those through balls are actually effective. If not, the team turns into a rather pedestrian possession side that just keeps holding the ball and not threatening. That might be fixed when Morris gets back from USMNT service, but that's another game away - plus the Gold Cup is going to hit Seattle too.
If Lodeiro is going to get himself into the MVP race, something that on talent alone he is capable of doing, he will need to do it himself. He needs to take the reigns of the monster, break it and ride it. He did it for 19 games. It's time to do it again.
Projected Lineup: Stefan Frei; Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Brad Evans; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Harry Shipp, Nicolas Lodeiro, Alvaro Fernandez; Seyi Adekoya
For my answers to Dave’s excellent questions check them out at Sounder at Heart!