The Houston Dynamo head out on the road for a very tough test tonight, taking on the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union. Houston is coming off a 2-1 loss at home to Minnesota United last weekend. Philadelphia won on the road last Saturday, beating Orlando City 1-0, and have won their last four matches in Major League Soccer.
Reinforcements on the way
With the MLS transfer window closing on Thursday, the Dynamo are still looking to strengthen the squad. Houston has completed the signing of 19 year-old Colombian winger Nelson Quiñones and are rumored to have made an offer to 21 year-old Argentine attacker Tomás Pozzo. The Dynamo have been desperate for help on the wings and in the attack in general and while these players look to be moves for the future, they could help for the remainder of this season.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura was asked Quiñones about in his weekly press conference this week. “An attacking player that can go wide, mostly on the left side; left and right, even up top,” Nagamura said. “Can play all three positions. Very aggressive, very good 1v1, very aggressive going to goal and brings some qualities that we are missing as a team. We look forward to bringing him to town and making sure that he joins the team as soon as possible. We are excited to bring him in, start developing him with the team, and make sure he can help us with this last push in the last 10-12 games we have.”
Forward Sebastian Ferreira didn’t start either of the last two games and looks to be out of favor recently. Sebas came off the bench in San Jose to get a goal but was held scoreless last weekend after coming on at halftime. Nagamura is still tinkering with lineups around new star Hector Herrera and Ferreira is still finding his feet in MLS. It’s not an ideal situation for the big money striker to be in but, alas.
Nagamura spoke Thursday about Ferreira’s growth and the strategy in picking his lineup. “Every player goes through ups and downs during the season, and it’s a longer season,’ the Dynamo head coach said. “I wouldn’t call that diminishing minutes, it’s a lot that goes with that. There are strategic decisions, game plans and guys performing well and playing confidently. It’s normal in a team environment. When we want to create that competitive environment where everyone has a chance to play, everyone is going to contribute to the team. When guys are not in the starting XI, or not in the 18, that’s a normal thing. It’s just a matter of the dynamic that we have here in the club, and you have to work your way back to get on the starting lineup. That requires work, confidence and performance on the field, I think that will create a great environment for us as a team going forward.”
Saturday’s opponent, the Philadelphia Union, currently sit in first place in the MLS Eastern Conference and have lost just twice all season. The Union are led by All-Stars Andre Blake and Kai Wagner but have a gluttony of star players up and down their roster. Designated Player Mikael Uhre leads the line with young Argentine Julian Carranza. The Union midfield has a number of options, even with Jose Martinez suspended. The back line, anchored by Jamaican international goalkeeper Blake, has allowed just 15 goals in 22 games this season. To say the Dynamo are up for a big challenge would be an understatement.
Houston Dynamo – None listed
Philadelphia Union – Out: Jose Martinez (suspension)