The Dynamo are back home Saturday night as they welcome Eastern Conference Leaders D.C. United to BBVA Compass Stadium. Both teams will be playing their third game in the past eight days.
To preview the match up, we spoke with Ryan Keefer of Black and Red United and asked him a few questions about D.C. United.
Dynamo Theory: Wayne Rooney, Luciano Acosta, and Paul Arriola came on as substitutes Wednesday. Should we see a “Best XI” from United on Saturday?
Black and Red United: I would think so. Rooney and Acosta came on just after halftime, Arriola came on for about a half hour. So, midfielder Lucas Rodriguez, fullbacks Leo Jara and (former FC Dallas player) Marquinhos Pedroso stayed on the bench, and I imagine they’ll go back in Saturday.
DT: MLS fans have heard the term “Bennyball” for some time. As someone who follows DC United, how would you best describe “Bennyball”?
BRU: Ha, funny you should say that, I wrote about Bennyball the other day! Buckle in for a minute:
I think that what people’s perceptions of “Bennyball” are different to my own. The common statement was “Bennyball” played tactically unappealing soccer and emphasized a lot on defensive shape and executing pragmatic counters, right? For years, Dave Kasper and Ben Olsen had to live within their means when it came to roster construction, so they brought in a lot of MLS retreads (including current Dynamo assistant Davy Arnaud and Dynamo icon Bobby Boswell), and it generally worked. But the thing that many ignored was that it had a limit, set by the players that could be used. People think of Bennyball as anti-soccer, but Bennyball should be considered narratively closer to Moneyball, probably the last time we’ll experience such a thing in MLS.
Jump ahead to present day, and D.C. United’s offseason was acquiring a guy who played in the Copa Libertadores Final (Jara) and another from Estudiantes (Rodriguez), both of whom played next to Acosta (another guy from Boca that D.C. acquired) several years ago. And Wednesday against Toronto FC, Olsen did not start any of them, opting to go with a 5-3-2, giving first season 2019 starts to 4 guys, and rendering TFC generally ineffective despite 35 shots. If you want “Bennyball,” that was what people saw Wednesday.
DT: DC has beaten Houston just 6 times in their 29 meetings. What do you see as a key to taking points from BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday?
BRU: Counter to your stat, D.C. is on a two-game unbeaten streak in Houston, so...we own you now?
I kid. Arriola has goals in his last two starts after saying recently he needed to do more. I would imagine he and Jara coming down the side of the field defended by (if they start) DaMarcus Beasley, Maynor Figueroa and Oscar Boniek Garcia, which would be the main point of concern. If Acosta can unlock some balls to those two and subsequently free up Rooney for some chances, D.C. may be able to hand Houston their first home loss of the year.
I’d like to thank Ryan for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some insight on D.C. United. Saturday night should be a great test for the Dynamo.