The Houston Dynamo are back on the road (again) following their 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium last week. The two sides battled it out with 31 total shots taken, but the goalkeepers were relatively untested despite the high number of attempts as only 1 shot was on target (thank you Memo Rodriguez). The Dynamo have looked better on the road in recent games being unbeaten in their previous 3 away fixtures and unbeaten in 5 games total if you include home matches. Against Real Salt Lake the energy felt a little flat as we struggled to counter attack quickly and frequently. The evening was further complicated by Alex Lima being shown two yellow cards within a minute of each other forcing the Dynamo to play with 10 men. Despite all of this, the defense was up to the task of putting themselves in the way of shots to block them and forcing tough angled efforts by RSL’s offense. If there was a silver lining to a game with very little offense, it is how well the defense performed under pressure.
This week the Dynamo will host the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose recently let go of their manager, and Dynamo former manager, Dominic Kinnear and have let Chris Leitch take the reins. Leitch struggled out of the gate, but has put together back-to-back wins over the Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew SC. The Dynamo do have an advantage coming into this game and that is rest. The Earthquakes played a US Open Cup match on Wednesday which went into extra time and penalties and that should wear on some players and make lineup decisions more difficult for Leitch.
The Dynamo will be a little more comfortable with their lineup decisions, although as Wilmer Cabrera proved with his questionable choices against RSL, anything is possible. I do think Cabrera will go back to a stronger starting XI following some of the problems the last XI saw. That means up top I would anticipate a Mauro Manotas, Cubo Torres, and Alberth Elis led forward line. Romell Quioto could feature, but I think Manotas has been too productive to put on the bench and instead will slide over for Cubo.
In the midfield the biggest hole will be left by Alex Lima who will serve his suspension from the RSL game. That could open up a few possibilities for players. Tomas Martinez could start, although it’s unlikely given the comments Cabrera has given about not rushing Martinez in, which would be a perfect fit for our newest designated player. Martinez wants to play in a 10 role which is basically what Alex does now; he floats around without many positional restrictions and sets up his teammates. It would be a natural fit (and easy adjustment) but I think we’re more likely to see either Memo Rodriguez or the veteran Oscar Boniek Garcia. I’d lean Memo given how well he’s played with Boniek possibly coming off the bench. The other midfield players I think we’ll see will be Juan David Cabezas and Ricardo Clark.
Defensively we saw Dylan Remick come in for DaMarcus Beasley last week who was probably resting following the MLS All-Star game. I would think Beasley gets the start again, but either are quality picks at LB. Across the rest of the line Adolfo Machado and Leonardo should start at CB with A. J. DeLaGarza at RB.
Lastly, while I believe Tyler Deric to be the safe start in goal for Houston, he did have an embarrassing gaffe in Sandy, Utah which could lead to Joe Willis getting a start. There was a lot of confusion about a corner kick and the ball being in play, and Deric gave the ball right to RSL. I think Cabrera understands the confusion and will start Deric again, but he’s benched our #1 GK in the past so you never know.
My Projected Starting Lineup
So who do you want to see lineup against the San Jose Earthquakes? Let us know and feel free to share your choices in the comments section below!