The 2019 MLS season is upon us as the Houston Dynamo open the year at BBVA Compass Stadium with Real Salt Lake coming to town Saturday. It’s been a busy offseason and busier preseason with the club making several moves to improve roster depth and improve the backline. Meanwhile the team has recently advanced in CONCACAF Champions League after besting CD Guastatoya twice which will see Houston through to the Quarterfinals to play Tigres. Having just played this past Tuesday, which had a delayed start thanks to inclement weather, and with the first leg against Tigres this next Tuesday, Wilmer Cabrera may be a little conservative with his use of first team starters in the club’s first game of the 2019 MLS regular season.
For most of these choices, it may be a shot in the dark as far as predicting who will actually get the start, but I’m going to try and do my best to mix some first teamers with the second unit which is what I think we’ll see.
Up top I think we’ll see Alberth Elis in the center forward role over Mauro Manotas. Manotas did not start last Tuesday, but was the Man of the Match with a brace coming off the bench. I think Manotas will be available, but won’t start with the upcoming CCL game coming early next week. Next to Elis will be Marlon Hairston and Tommy McNamara. Hairston this season will likely be a super sub. He’s a player that puts in a lot of work and he’s got the pace to destroy back lines. Romell Quioto, the usual first team option, started against Guastatoya and Hairston will be a good option to replace the Honduran. Elis did not start earlier this week and should be a lock to start against Tigres, but I think he’s in the XI to give the lineup more teeth.
The midfield is a little easier to predict – at least I think so. Juan David Cabezas was reported to be recovering from discomfort in his right leg so I think he’s unlikely to start especially with CCL action next week. With that in mind, Darwin Cerén should be pegged to start over JDC. Next to him we could see newcomer Matías Vera, but I think he’ll be rested since he played 90 minutes against Guastatoya and will be called upon next week as well. In his place I think we’ll see a familiar face in Oscar Boniek García. In the most attacking midfield position I think we’ll see Tomás Martínez. He’ll help support the other players and he didn’t play any minutes earlier this week.
Defenders usually are better suited for quick turnarounds although I think we’ll see some changes along the back four. US Men’s National Team legend DaMarcus Beasley will likely not be starting. Given his age and history with injuries, Adam Lundqvist should get the start at left back. Maynor Figueroa and Kiki Struna have been Cabrera’s favorite options at center back through preseason and CCL. I think Alejandro Fuenmayor will get the start over the 35 year old Figueroa, but Struna should be in the starting lineup alongside A.J. DeLaGarza at right back. In goal I think Joe Willis gets the call, but if he doesn’t then it’ll be Tyler Deric.
My Projected Starting Lineup:
There are a lot of different directions Cabrera could go in for the opener, but who do you want to see start against RSL? Let us know and share your selections in the comment section.
***This article has been edited to reflect that Ronaldo Peña is not available***