Vancouver is looking to follow up a solid 2-1 win over Montreal Impact this week, as they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo. We sat down with Derek Stowers of Dynamo Theory to get a read on an upstart Houston side that took down Atlanta United 4-0 in week one.
1. Houston thrashed Atlanta in week one, surprising a good many people. Was this a matter of people underestimating Houston or did they just succeed in exploiting Atlanta’s midfield weakness?
I think it’s fair to say both. When Houston is playing its A game and doesn’t let up, we can go head-to-head with anyone in the league. A big problem the Dynamo have is that they’ll get an early lead and then sit back which lets opponents back into games. They didn’t do that against Atlanta. In fact, they smelled blood in the water and went after them all afternoon. To the midfield point, the Dynamo just transitioned the ball quickly and pressured the backline enough to have numbers advantages in good areas of the field.
Generally speaking, people underestimated the Dynamo in their projections for how far the club can go in 2018. The team made the Conference Finals last season, kept their impact players, and got a little deeper. Against Atlanta, we surprised some people (mostly because of the score line), but I think there was a strong chance that we would have beaten AUFC simply because of how strong the Dynamo are at home.
2. Cubo Torres is gone and it seems that most Dynamo fans aren’t missing him given that Houston possesses one of the most dynamic attacking trios in Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. What are the Caps going to have to do to slow down those three?
This will not be easy to do because if you spend too much time focusing on Elis, Manotas, or Quioto, the other will be open on the other side. The absolute best way to stop our quick counters and speedsters from having lots of open space is to get as many players behind the ball as possible and force the Dynamo to build up possession. That’s been an area the team has struggled with as their strategy (that works against most teams) has been to dispossess and quickly get the ball to a forward who is already making a run. Tomas Martinez is supposed to be our player that can help break teams down with his passing, but that still requires other players get on the same page as him which we haven’t seen take form yet.
3. What new faces did the Dynamo acquire this offseason that Caps fans should be keeping an eye on Saturday?
The Dynamo have a few new players that will likely see playing time against the Caps. Darwin Ceren is expected to start over the injured Juan David Cabezas. Ceren came on early in the first half against Atlanta and really helped keep the defensive midfield shored up while notching a goal as well. He’s a similar defensive “enforcer” type midfielder as Cabezas who will do any of the dirty work that needs to get done.
Goalkeeper Chris Seitz was also brought in over the offseason and he’ll likely get the starting nod again. He’s a good shot stopper and makes pretty good decisions with his feet and positioning. He made one mistake that led to a penalty against Atlanta last week, but he’s looked impressive this preseason.
Arturo Alvarez returns to his hometime. Alvarez is a dynamic attacking minded player capable of playing in the midfield or as a forward. He’ll likely get some time as one of the first substitutes.
Projected Lineup: 4-3-3
Chris Seitz; DaMarcus Beasley, Philippe Senderos, Adolfo Machado, Kevin Garcia; Darwin Ceren, Tomas Martinez, Eric Alexander; Andrew Wenger, Mauro Manotas, Romell Quioto
Make sure to check out my answers to Dynamo Theory’s three questions about the Caps offseason moves, 0-4-1 record in Houston, and players to keep an eye on Saturday.