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Three things to watch as the Houston Dynamo try to cure their road woes

The Dynamo face a big test in San Jose and it’s one they can pass.

Seattle Sounders v Houston Dynamo - Western Conference Finals - Leg 1 Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

By early Sunday morning, Houston Dynamo fans will know if their team has turned the corner when it comes to finding the winning formula on the road in the San Jose. Road woes are nothing new to the Houston Dynamo. For as long as the Houston Dynamo have been in existence, winning or at least gaining a draw on the road has been a formidable obstacle for the organization. The road win dilemma has been so bad that only once since arriving in the Bayou City have the Dynamo produced a winning road record. In fact, the Dynamo have won three are less road games in a season nine times and have not won more than five on the road since 2013. For all the magic that Wilmer Cabrera’s men in orange created at home last season, not even he could cast a spell that would change the road outcomes. Now into their second season under Cabrera, the Dynamo who have been susceptible at home this season need an almost (dare I say) must win on the road. A draw is not good enough, it must be a win and here is how they leave the west coast with three points in their pocket.

  1. Install Adolfo Machado as a sweeper

Yes, this may sound crazy but hear me out. Houston will be without Phillipe Senderos, DaMarcus Beasley, Kevin Garcia, Dylan Remick and George Malki for this match. This leaves a team that is used to pushing the attack with a makeshift lineup and thus in need of some extra defense. Not only are the Dynamo contending with the likes of former Dynamo forward Chris Wondolowski but a couple of midfielders named Vako and Hoesen. THis trio will test the ability of the Dynamo defense to stop them but choose the right moment to counter. This is where Machado and my outside back (Boniek Garcia and Andrew Wenger) come into play. Machado is a wily, skilled veteran who can find the open man while both Garcia and Wenger have the defensive toughness and the offensive mindset to pick their moments to attack and create havoc in the offensive third.

“We need to be more solid defensively. In our last away game against D.C. United we suffered two goals, and two goals are too many,” said Cabrera earlier in the week. “We need to finish with 11 players, and hopefully, we don’t have any disciplinary issues because it is a lot better to play with 11 players, so we need to be more solid.”

2. Time to start the youngsters

If ever there was a time to start the younger players who have been coming off the bench, now is the time. Houston needs to have Memo Rodriguez, Darwin Ceren, Tomas Martinez and Alejandro Fuenmayor on the pitch. Vice-president Matt Jordan did not go and get these players just to have them sit on the bench or be training field fodder. The skills they bring are much needed on the field of play. Aside from youth, they bring speed, athleticism and the ability to see the field like few others. When Martinez arrived on the scene last season, the players raved about his ability to find the open man with one touch. Time to let him work his magic. Memo and Fuenmayor need just 90 minutes to show us if they can be the players we’ve been told they are and Ceren is a defensive midfielder who needs to step up his game.

“I’m excited to go back to San Jose and to play there. I think it’s a wonderful place, and we both are good teams, so I’m excited,” said Ceren about returning to his old stomping grounds. “I’ll be wearing a different jersey now, but I will put all of my energy in this team, and we will try to take those three points.”

3. Bring the Honduran connection together again

For all the love I have for Mauro Manotas, it’s time to put La Panterita and Quioto together again. Alberth Elis (La Panterita) is the catalyst of the Dynamo offense in case you haven’t been watching. With 12 goals in 30 games, there is no one can give Houston the lift they need on the road. Yet to start a game this season, Quioto scored seven goals on 15 shots on target so give me him and Elis and let’s see what happens. Add in 10 more assists between these two and Houston may have an offense ready for takeoff.

“Romell (Quioto) has worked very well, the best week he has worked is this and we are happy for him and expecting him to be reflected,” continued Cabrera about his young forward. “He is ready, one hundred percent.”

If these aren’t enough to bring home the three points, then let’s consider briefly that there are some silver linings in playing at San Jose. Houston has the second most franchise roads wins against the Earthquakes with four. Only their five wins against DC United ranks higher.

Next consider that they have a minus five goal differential in San Jose and yet have won four and tied one in 11 matches there.

In their only four regular season matches at Avaya Stadium, the Dynamo are 2-0-2 and are level on goals at five apiece.

Finally having said all this, the possibility does exist that Kevin Garcia will return to the backline this week and if he does it can only be good for the road team.

Sooner or later, you would think the mojo would have to change and maybe just maybe this late night game on the left coast is just what the doctor ordered.


MATCHUP: Houston Dynamo (1-2-1; 4 pts.) at San Jose Earthquakes (1-2-1; 4 pts.)

TIME: 9:30 p.m. CDT


RADIO: CBS Sports Radio 650 AM (English); Univision Radio 1010 AM (Spanish)