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USOC Edition: Pick the Starting Lineup for the Dynamo vs. Minnesota United

Who do you think should be in the starting XI against Minnesota United FC in the Round of 16?

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Minnesota United FC vs Houston Dynamo John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Dynamo are coming off an unconvincing 3-2 win over USL Championship side Austin Bold FC in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The title defenders had a 3-0 lead going into the half, but somehow – despite playing better – conceded two goals to give Austin Bold some hope before the final whistle.

Following the win, the Dynamo now have a rematch in the Round of 16 as Minnesota United FC come to the newly rebranded BBVA Stadium. Last season the Dynamo came away with a 1-0 win courtesy of eventual USOC Golden Boot winner Mauro Manotas. With the CONCACAF Gold Cup beginning Wilmer Cabrera will be out of some regular players, but he’ll likely deploy a stronger squad than we saw against Austin – even with an away match at Portland this Saturday.

With the El Salvadoran National Team and the Honduran National Team both participating in the Gold Cup tournament, the Dynamo will be without Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto, Maynor Figueroa, and Darwin Cerén. Some players may be returning from international duty such as A.J. DeLaGarza and Kiki Struna and Cabrera may opt for them to be rested before an important away conference fixture.

Our forward group looks pretty depleted with the absences of Elis and Quioto, but we should expect Mauro Manotas to lead the line as the club’s center forward. Memo Rodríguez also has played well for the Dynamo during the regular season notching five goals from twelve games. He should help take the place on the left wing for Quioto. The real question lies with who starts on the right wing (or left if Cabrera pushes Memo to the right side) and it will likely come down to either Marlon Hairston or Tommy McNamara. Cabrera seems to prefer going to Tommy Mac over Hairston for the time being so let’s expect him to start on the wing.

In the midfield we should see Tomás Martínez start as the attacking most midfielder. Behind him it becomes more difficult to predict who starts between Matías Vera, Oscar Boniek García, and Juan David Cabezas. Against Austin Bold Cabrera opted to go with Vera and Cabezas as the two holding midfielders and it largely looked impressive with the two taking turns pushing up and covering for the other. However, in the second half Vera was subbed off for Boniek and things looked far from what they were earlier. I think Cabrera goes back to what had been a successful pairing in Vera and Boniek.

Along the back line we have a few question marks with Struna and DeLaGarza. I believe Cabrera saves them from jumping right back in and starts them this weekend. DaMarcus Beasley started against Austin and the USMNT legend should get the start against the Loons. Last week we saw in central defense the pairing of Kevin Garcia and Alejandro Fuenmayor and it was far from the disaster many of us anticipated when we saw the announced XI. In fact, Garcia looked more comfortable than I’ve ever seen him and Cabrera may reward these performances by having them ready to go against stiffer competition. It is possible Struna starts next to Fuenmayor, but Cabrera has been known to trust and reward players for doing well. At right back Chris Duvall also put in a solid effort against Austin and he may get the start as well over AJ. While Tyler Deric played pretty well in goal, we should see Joe Willis return between the sticks.

My Projected Starting Lineup:

So who do you want to see starting against Minnesota United FC? Let us know and please share your selections in the comment section below.