The Houston Dynamo head back out on the road following their 2-2 draw to the Portland Timbers at BBVA Compass Stadium last week. This time they’re headed to Sandy, Utah to face Real Salt Lake who have been unbeaten in their last four matches. Road struggles have been a problem for the Dynamo this season, but prior to their game against the Timbers they went on a two game road trip where they came up with a draw against Minnesota United FC and a big win over D. C. United for a total of four points. In general the Dynamo have looked better on the road aside from a few hiccups such as their 1-3 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
The Dynamo were also big winners against RSL in the last meeting in Houston when the Dynamo topped the visitors 5-1. Mauro Manotas helped open the scoring in just the 3rd minute as he took a ball on the left side of the field and curled in a cross to Alberth Elis, but Justin Schmidt was there to intercept the cross which he redirected into his own net. Not much later Alex doubled Houston’s lead as he was left virtually unmarked while he dribbled in and took a low shot through traffic which found the back of the net. Manotas would get his own goal just before halftime after a nice back heel pass by Cubo Torres. Manotas took a big first touch to create separation and then hit the far side of the goal to put Houston up 3-0 before the break. Cubo made it 4-0 with a tap in following a low cross by Elis and then RSL would get on the board after an absolutely brilliant free kick goal by Joao Plata. Leonardo would seal the 5-1 win with a headed effort thanks to a perfectly placed cross by Oscar Boniek Garcia.
It’s important to note that the offense was on full display in the win over RSL, but some old tactics surfaced, as they do, which resulted in Tyler Deric making 8 saves to preserve the big win. Of course when the Dynamo visit RSL, the home team will be looking to not only get a win in front of their fans, but repay Houston for that big loss.
With the Gold Cup now behind us, players that rejoined the Dynamo from their national teams last week to play against Portland Saturday have now had a full week’s training and a bit more time to rest. That means that Cubo Torres, Alberth Elis, and Romell Quioto should now be ready to re-take their starting positions unless Mauro Manotas should get a spot. To be fair to Manotas, he deserves it the way that he has been playing and I think he starts on the left wing over Romell Quioto who has slumped since the early part of the year largely due to injuries. Although Andrew Wenger has played well in Elis’s absence, it’s clear which player helps the team’s direct attack approach more. Elis’s ability to spread the field, take players on, and use his speed to create counter attacks is what will see him in Wilmer Cabrera’s starting XI. Cubo Torres will be the team’s starting center forward even though my preferred starting group of forwards has Cubo on the bench with Manotas at CF and Elis and Quioto on the wings.
In the midfield there is a bit of injury update news with Eric Alexander returning to training for the first time since he injured his knee in the May 6th game against Orlando City SC. Corey Roepken of the Houston Chronicle reported that it’s unlikely for Alexander to feature in games for the next few weeks as he returns to fitness, but it is encouraging to see the player back on the field finished with his rehab.
I would expect to see, assuming Cabrera sticks with his trusted 4-3-3, Alex at LM/LCM (but really undefined playmaking role) even though he appeared to struggle a bit in the game against the Timbers. Credit the Timbers midfield for collapsing on our midfield and making it tough, but it wasn’t the best showing for our top assisting player of 2017. Next to/beneath him would be Juan David Cabezas at CM/CDM with Ricardo Clark at RM/RCM. I still think it’s too soon for Tomas Martinez to start, but he could easily get some minutes off the bench. I also want to point out how good Memo Rodriguez has been the last few games and could see him as one of the first players off the bench in the future.
In the back I think we will get our usual suspects in defense even though DaMarcus Beasley was recently at the All-Star game. DMB only played 45 minutes and his performance stood out. If he shouldn’t go the Dynamo have a capable replacement in Dylan Remick to fill in at LB. In central defense Leonardo and Adolfo Machado should start with A. J. DeLaGarza at RB.
My Projected Starting Lineup
So who do you want to see lineup against Real Salt Lake? Let us know and feel free to share your choices in the comments section below!