Things didn’t go as planned the last time the Whitecaps played Houston Dynamo in a 2-1 road loss at BBVA Compass Stadium. We spoke with our friend Derrick Stowers from Dynamo Theory to get the inside scoop on Houston ahead od todays match
1. Houston has been one of the biggest surprises in MLS. A lot of ink has been spilled on the formidable forwards they possess but which players have flown under the radar in fueling their success?
DS: Excellent question because it hasn’t been just our offense that has fueled our success this year. New additions such as defensive midfielder Juan David Cabezas has shown up in big ways especially as of late. He’s an exceptional tackler, but also a great distributor from the back as he quickly gets the ball either out wide or up to our forwards. His partnership with Ricardo Clark has allowed Alex Lima to be more mobile and involved with the offense which has led Alex to being one of the top assisting players in MLS. I’d also have to say A. J. DeLaGarza at right back and Adolfo Machado at center back have supported us well defensively when we sit back.
2. BBVA Compass stadium has been a real fortress for the Dynamo it seems—something Vancouver found out in a hurry a few weeks back. What makes you think they can start improving their play on the road this week at BC Place?
DS: The Dynamo were certainly polarizing in their form depending on where they were playing for most of the season. Wilmer Cabrera has turned some things around with his tactics and we’ve seen the team go unbeaten in their last six games with three of those on the road. The Dynamo tend to be conservative with their tactics on the road as they narrow the field, try to possess more, and commit fewer numbers into the offense. This is counter to who this team is and how they were built. Sitting back is fine for stretches, but not for halves and I think Cabrera has realized this. He’s getting his team to play wider, to play longer balls to start counters, and is allowing the midfield into the attack to support the offense even at the expense of a counter attack the other way. If Cabrera keeps implementing this strategy – the one that has worked so well at home, we can find even more success. However, if we succumb to the temptation of sitting back then a loss or draw are in the cards barring even poorer play from our opponents.
3. Vancouver and Houston both are teams with a lot of players from Latin America. What do you think of this strategy (it inspires some grumbling with the Whitecap fanbase when it comes at the expense of buying Canadian players) and do you think it has helped build the popularity of the team in the city?
DS: This is a great question that I think a lot of fans find difficulty with. For me, I don’t care where a player comes from as long as they can improve the team. Obviously I would prefer a US National Team players because then I get to root for a player more than I would that’s with the National Team because that player represents the US AND the Dynamo. Ultimately though at the club level, I think it should be about winning and I think most fans would agree with that.
The second part of your question digs into something I think front offices look at and that’s how to get the most out of your market. There is a huge population in Houston that is connected to Latin America (among many, many other places) and trying to get as many new supporters is a big part of what our front office does. They also do not want to marginalize existing fans, but I think what connects a city across any barriers is winning together which should be the front office’s top priority.