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Pick the Starting Lineup – Texas Derby Edition: Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas

Who should Wilmer Cabrera start against FC Dallas?

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow evening’s game for the Houston Dynamo will be one of the most important of the season given the team’s current position in the standings. For the season to be salvaged in any way they’ll need to win the US Open Cup Final at the end of September, and they’ll need to win the Texas Derby which will come to a conclusion Saturday evening in Frisco, TX. The previous two meetings between Houston and FC Dallas this season have both been draws so a win would ensure that El Capitán remains in the Bayou City.

The Dynamo are currently on a 9 game winless streak which was extended this past Wednesday when the Men in Orange traveled to Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls. Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera, with an eye on Saturday’s derby, fielded a team that primarily consisted of role players with first team members sprinkled throughout the XI. The game was not pretty with the Red Bulls attacking the Dynamo goal relentlessly which finally saw the home side find the back of the net in the 55th minute. The Dynamo tried to respond, but they were unable to equalize.

Throughout this winless streak we’ve seen the Dynamo offense, which was once among the league’s best, now averaging just over half a goal a game in the previous 9 fixtures. There are some finishing issues, but tactically Cabrera has tried to manage games in ways that does not complement his personnel. Specifically, he’s tried to defend 1-0 leads which has often led to opponents increasing their chances until they equalize or take the lead. He has also tried to play conservatively on the road to try and steal a win or settle for a road point, but this has also led to opponents stealing points from Houston. Against FC Dallas, he’ll need to abandon these tactics for some hope of success.

The good news is the Dynamo will likely field their strongest lineup and he’ll have players relatively rested. Up top I’d expect the trio of Romell Quioto, Mauro Manotas, and Alberth Elis with Ronaldo Peña getting minutes off the bench likely for Elis who started against RBNY.

In the midfield we should see Tomás Martínez return to the starting XI in his attacking support role. Just behind him should be Oscar Boniek García who will do well if the team is pressing. If we sit too deep, Boniek’s defensive liabilities are highlighted so let’s hope Cabrera goes all out for this one. In the deepest midfield role we should find Darwin Cerén. This midfield was completely rested against RBNY so they should be fresh to press FC Dallas.

Along the back line we could see full changes as well. DaMarcus Beasley did not feature in Wednesday’s game and I think he gets the starting call against our I-45 rivals. In central defense I’d predict Philippe Senderos and Alejandro Fuenmayor to start as both were rested. Both Senderos and Fuenmayor provide set piece targets which could be useful in a must-win game. At right back Andrew Wenger should return. Wenger had a major flub in his previous start against Real Salt Lake, but in general he has done well at the right back position and he is a better option than Kevin Garcia and Adolfo Machado. In goal this week we saw Chris Seitz back between the sticks. Tyler Deric was also available in that game, but I think Joe Willis has done more than enough this season to play in a game of this importance.

Injury Report

OUT: D - A.J. DeLaGarza (torn left ACL)

OUT: M - Juan David Cabezas (left quad injury)

OUT: D - Dylan Remick (concussion)*

OUT: F – Mac Steeves (left hip injury)

*Remick does not appear on the Injury Report, but is out for the season.

My Projected Starting Lineup

There are a ton of options, not to mention formations to play with so let us know who you think should be in the starting lineup against the FC Dallas.