The Houston Dynamo are looking to extend an unbeaten run to 5 games as they travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders. The two sides will likely be without many players who have been called up to their national teams. The Dynamo and the Sounders are two teams at different ends of the Conference. Houston is all but eliminated from competing for a playoff spot and the Seattle is currently jostling for seeding.
In our preview of the match we discussed each side’s last outing, but we wanted to know more about our opponent so we spoke with Dave Clark at Sounder at Heart to get his perspective on the match.
Dynamo Theory: Goals haven’t exactly flowed this season for the Sounders and potentially missing out on the team’s #1 and #2 goal scorers in Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz won’t help things. Where are the goals going to come from without these two and how can they keep the Sounders in the thick of playoff positioning?
Sounder at Heart: If Seattle is without both of those players (also Shipp and Smith) the offense has to come from Victor Rodriguez and Will Bruin. It could result in many crosses from the fullbacks in a rather routine version of trying to get the ball near Will’s head. Strong off-ball movement and passing is Rodriguez’ strength, but he will lack someone to play off of and be forced into performing as the key creator. He hasn’t been in that role often with Seattle. It will be interesting to see how he does -- interesting like scary.
There’s a chance that the Sounders talk their way into keeping one or both of them.
DT: The Dynamo are likely going to be short on firepower with Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis with the Honduran National Team and they’ll be facing an elite defense away from BBVA Compass Stadium. How can the Dynamo hope to get a positive result against a team that’s only allowed 32 goals this season?
SaH: The defense is going to be quite strong. Shots from distance might be the easy part. It could be one of those games where the Dynamo should flood the boxscore with shots from distance and hope. Seattle is less shutout prone than most of the other strong defenses in the league, but they usually only give up one goal. Houston should nab that single goal and withdraw into a shell. I know that can be boring soccer, but with Seattle having their whole backline and two of their three strong defensive mids, they will remain strong.
DT: The Sounders look playoff bound while the Dynamo are likely eliminated from playoff contention in the near future. What’s a matchup you like in the first round and who’s a team you would not like to meet?
SaH: My dream matchup in the first round would be to host Portland in the play-in round. I think that makes for a great experience, puts Seattle with potential back-to-back home games and assures that there will be no way that the Sounders relax during the match. On the other-hand playing that same game, but at Portland would scare the crap out of me. It’s probably the only Western Conference playoff road matchup I want to avoid.
If Sporting KC drop into the play-in round and Seattle has to face them it will be an ugly game. They are the only team in the West with a defense that would be able to slow Seattle down. Plus, the potential for injury with their foul-laden style would hurt chances to advance in the next round.
Projected Lineup: I’m going to go worst case
Stefan Frei; Nouhou, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Kim Kee-hee, Kelvin Leerdam; Osvaldo Alonso; Victor Rodriguez, Cristian Roldan, Henry Wingo; Will Bruin
For my answers to Dave’s excellent questions, please check them out at Sounder at Heart!