The Houston Dynamo are looking to build their first winning streak of the season as they head north to take on Minnesota United FC. In the Dynamo’s last game, they were finally able to put their finishing woes to bed in their 5-1 win over an admittedly shorthand Toronto FC side.
In our match preview we discussed some of Minnesota’s defensive problems, but we wanted to learn about their perspective so we spoke with Eli Hoff at E Pluribus Loonum to gain insight about his club coming into this game.
Dynamo Theory: Currently in their sophomore year, what are the expectations for how far this Loons team can go and what changes did they make over the offseason to help them reach those expectations?
E Pluribus Loonum: The expectations vary. Many would like to see the Loons in the playoffs next year, but others are fine with another “build-up” year. Regardless, improvement is a must. The offseason wasn’t super productive. The only real news of the offseason was a move that didn’t happen: failed efforts to bring in young Colombian attacker Nicolas Benedetti. The recent move for Darwin Quintero is obviously huge, both for PR and for confidence, but there are still some holes in the team.
DT: Ethan Finlay recently tore his ACL and will be ruled out for the foreseeable future. How big of a blow is that and who is ready to step up and fill in his shoes?
EPL: It’s huge. Kevin Molino went down earlier this year, so the attacking midfield is getting depleted. Finlay is also a Minnesotan and a leader on the field, plus has the backing of a lot of fans. Though the team is full of wingers, there isn’t really a logical replacement for him on the right side. There are rumors that a replacement will be brought in, but it could also be that Miguel Ibarra will step up in the mean time.
DT: For someone that doesn’t catch many Minnesota United FC games, who are some players to keep an eye on?
EPL: Darwin Quintero, the new DP, is an obvious eye-catcher. Forward Christian Ramirez is normally worth watching, but he’s been slumping and just scored his first goal of the year last week. Midfielder Ibson can be feisty, so he’s always fun to watch as well, even when he’s a bit off.
Projected Lineup: (4-2-3-1 L to R): Bobby Shuttleworth; Alexi Gomez, Francisco Calvo, Michael Boxall, Jerome Thiesson; Ibson, Rasmus Schuller; Sam Nicholson, Darwin Quintero, Miguel Ibarra; Christian Ramirez
For my answers to Eli’s excellent questions, please check them out at E Pluribus Loonum!