With Houston Dynamo FC in its final five games of the 2021 MLS season they’ll hope to upset the top team in the Western Conference, the Seattle Sounders. While Seattle sits atop the Western Conference Table, Houston is in the next to worst position – just two points above Austin FC and one below FC Dallas…this clearly isn’t the year for Texas. The Dynamo will have a chance to even the matchup with their opponent as Seattle won 2-0 earlier this year.
We wanted to get our opponent’s perspective on the game and their team so we were in touch with our SB Nation friends with Sounder at Heart and writer Dave Clark to talk about their season and the matchup.
Dynamo Theory: After losing out in the MLS Cup Final last season, what have the Sounders done to prepare for another deep run into the playoffs this year?
Sounder at Heart: At the beginning of the season my answer would have been “not much.” They had to cut salary and their big signings were Kelyn Rowe, Fredy Montero, and Spencer Richey.
How wrong I was. The youth stepped up in a big way, most famously in that win at Austin, which may have overshadowed the fact that the under-23 group has earned consistent minutes. Josh Atencio is the best of that group. He’s become a free ranging DM who allows the rest of the midfield to work higher up the pitch.
DT: The Sounders have scored 12 goals in the last 4 matches. How have they been so effective at getting on the score sheet and what (if any) ways can they be slowed down?
SaH: Those 12 goals are from eight different players, showing the depth of a team that was missing so many due to injury and international duty that they made an extreme hardship call-up.
Possession as a defensive tactic is probably the best way to slow down Seattle right now. Add in deep compact lines and they’ll be even more limited. Trying to go toe-to-toe with one of the best attacks in the league will end badly.
DT: For casual viewers who may not be familiar with the Sounders, who are some players to keep an eye on that they may not have heard of?
SaH: João Paulo went from being a supporting cast role behind the three 2020 Best XI Sounders, two of whom were MVP candidates, to showing that he can lead his own film. He’s the best two-way player in the league and a case can be made that he’s the MVP.
Jimmy Medranda also deserves a mention. He’s finally having the year that was expected back when he signed with KC.
For my answers to Dave’s excellent questions, please check them out at Sounder at Heart!