It hasn’t been an easy go for Houston Dynamo interim manager Davy Arnaud who has had players unavailable due to international duty early on and not a lot of time to establish his brand of soccer that he thinks Houston should sport. The results have not been overly positive, but in recent weeks the form has improved with Arnaud getting his first win in a midweek fixture against a solid club in Minnesota United FC. That was followed up with a loss on the road to the Vancouver Whitecaps in what was a pretty good road performance all things considered. Arnaud and the Dynamo could see their form improve further with Orlando City SC coming to BBVA Stadium this evening.
We’ve seen a slow transition into Arnaud’s style of play which is perhaps by accident with him falling into a competitive formula or by design with Arnaud slowly making adjustments to help his players learn their roles. Lately the Dynamo have played a more dynamic offense compared to Cabrera’s more straightforward system. Arnaud has had his team adjust to pressing more – even on the road – and focused on winning second passes to generate offense. From a formational standpoint, his wide players usually played by Christian Ramirez and either Tomás Martínez or Tommy McNamara have provided support by pinching inside which has allowed fullbacks to join the attack to increase numbers in attacking areas. With Ramirez and Mauro Manotas on the pitch at the same time it allows one to be a higher up hold up player and the other a ball winner and distributor deeper in midfield and their pairing has been one of the bright spots of the season.
So who does Davy Arnaud start against OCSC? Up top there are a few easy guesses and then one that isn’t quite as easy. Mauro Manotas should be the expected starting center forward and I would also wager Christian Ramirez starts on the left wing. When Ramirez plays his position is a little more soft or dynamic in that he and Manotas both play off each other. Sometimes he drops deeper and sometimes it’s Manotas which makes things difficult for center backs to read. Right wing is tough. It should be easy with the answer being obviously the speedster Alberth Elis. Elis doesn’t really fit the recent trend of Arnaud’s tactics because Elis is a very direct player. He doesn’t often cut inside to provide room for an overlapping run by the right back and he isn’t a great 1-2 passer. However, I think he’s too talented to leave on the bench and now that he’s had more rest I think he returns to the starting lineup. His speed and ability to whip a ball across the 18 yard box for Manotas or Ramirez to finish is too much to not play.
In the midfield I think we see Tomás Martínez as the highest attacking player, potentially as the middle “3” player in the 4-2-3-1 with his ability to check in and quickly push the ball wide or provide a through ball to a run. Behind him I would anticipate Oscar Boniek García and Matías Vera. Vera has proven to be a sensational pickup by the front office as an insurance policy for Juan David Cabezas. Boniek has aged well and is a player that has some defensive deficiencies, but his dribbling in tight spaces has helped move the ball out of our defensive third of the field and transitioned the ball to our opponents’ halves.
Along the back line I think we see DaMarcus Beasley starting at left back with Maynor Figueroa and Alejandro Fuenmayor starting at center back. Kiki Struna has been a fixture at CB, but he’s currently on the injury report listed as questionable and Fuenmayor has had some good outings so I think Arnaud goes with what’s working and it keeps Struna from furthering a right knee sprain. At right back José Bizama should start with Joe Willis in goal.
My projected lineup:
So who do you want to see starting against Orlando City SC? Let us know and please share your selections in the comment section below.