The Houston Dynamo are coming off a bye week thanks to an international break which saw many MLS clubs benefit. Their visitors this Saturday, the New England Revolution, were not lucky enough to get a week off as they drew level with New York City FC this past week.
Houston’s form in the early stages of the year have been up and down. They started out of the gate hot with a 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC and followed it up with a disappointing, but well fought 1-2 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Last week was the club’s first match on the road where they traveled to Boyds, Maryland to face D. C. United in their temporary home at the Maryland Soccerplex until their new stadium is completed. In that game we saw a bit of a regression – or better put, more of the same from last year. The Dynamo went up 2-0 thanks to goals from Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas in the first half, but we saw the team sit deeper and deeper. This invited more pressure from DCU which allowed them to generate more chances and they found their way back into the game which finished even 2-2.
This week, they’re facing an opponent with an equal record as both clubs are 1-1-1 on the year, only the Dynamo have the advantage in goal differential. The two clubs met in preseason in the Mobile Mini Sun Cup Final, but the Dynamo fell to the Revs on penalties. There are a couple of key issues to look at with this game to determine how it could all play out:
The Dynamo Defense
New England has not proven to be a power house offensive team yet – they’ve scored just four times this season which is how many we poured on Atlanta in our home opener, but our defensive line has shown cracks since that game and with injuries present, the visitors could look to find their form on the offensive side of the ball. With injuries to Dylan Remick (concussion), Philippe Senderos (hamstring), George Malki (concussion), and A. J. DeLaGarza (ACL), the team is thin at options in the back. On top of that, Adolfo Machado may not be available due to traveling with the Panama National Team who played in Switzerland this past Tuesday. Machado went the full 90 minutes in a 6-0 loss to the Swiss so he was definitely put to work in that game. This means we’ll likely line up with DaMarcus Beasley and Leonardo with new or struggling players. At center back we’ll probably see either Alejandro Fuenmayor, who has looked raw in his playing time during the preseason, or the Dynamo’s newest acquisition, Jared Watts. At right back we’ll probably see Kevin Garcia who had a solid outing against Atlanta, but struggled in his appearances against Vancouver and DC. If Garcia isn’t the starting right back the only other healthy option Oscar Boniek García who has limited experience in the role.
The Dynamo will need to make sure that they take as much pressure off this defense by possessing for extended periods to keep the Revs off the ball and away from our goal. Whoever lines up will also need to limit individual mistakes, and a lot of that goes to how these players have developed chemistry in practice and how much the coaching staff has helped them learn the system which sometimes leaves a lot of players higher up the field.
Style of Play
The Dynamo and Revolution play very similar games in terms of their style of play which will force one team to change. Both thrive on the counter and are offensively oriented. The Revolution may come out slightly more conservative on the road with their style, but if the Dynamo take an early lead and sit back, expect a team like the Revs to be ready to loosen any conservative composure. This could be devastating to an inexperienced back line that the Dynamo trot out. The Dynamo will absolutely want to play their brand consisting of quick attacking and high pressing, but they’ll need to be prepared to show growth in an area they’ve been trying to work at this season. That is quality build up play through possession by utilizing the talents of Tomás Martínez. If the team can be patient and pick their chances through possession it will take pressure off our defense and hopefully we can generate good looks on goal. They can balance this with their high press and opportunistic pouncing which Alberth Elis has thrived at, but they’ll need to pick the times when to speed the game up and when to slow it down all while keeping New England off the ball. Turnovers are a big part of why they suffered to DC so they’ll need to be accurate with their passing for this to succeed.
This is a winnable game if the team that we saw beat Atlanta shows up. Too many mistakes and sitting back will be what undoes any of their success though.
Kickoff is at 7:30 PM CT at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, TX.