Who’s tired yet? Anyone need a chance to catch their breath? After Sunday night, everyone will get that chance as the Houston Dynamo head up to the Pacific Northwest to face a depleted, but still dangerous, Seattle Sounders. The champions are still floundering in the middle of the conference, and have yet to find their form. While Houston has never won up north, this is as good a time as any with the Sounders depleted due to injury and international duty.
Fortunately for the Dynamo, they haven’t been hit as hard, yet, as the region ramps up for World Cup Qualifiers and the Gold Cup.
After getting a point in Frisco last week, Wilmer Cabrera and company are looking to keep their form high and take advantage of the Sounders not having Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey available. The pair are with the US National Team for a friendly against Venezuela as well as qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico. Their third big striker, Will Bruin, is out with an elbow injury. This means that the man at the tip of the spear is Seyi Adekoya, the homegrown striker out of UCLA. The 21 year old has a pair of appearances for Seattle, but has yet to score his first professional goal.
Strategy number one for Houston’s defense is to prevent that from happening.
Much like the earlier match this season, to have any hope of success they’ll need to isolate Nicolas Lodeiro and prevent him from sending crucial passes to runners. Those runners, besides Adekoya, would be Christian Roldan and Joevin Jones. The former had a breakout season last year and has been pretty good so far. The latter is the best attacking defender in the league, having tallied five assists to date. Another player to be mindful of is Harry Shipp. The Chicago native has been coming off the bench quite successfully, giving the Sounders a needed offensive boost.
With Seattle utilizing a five man midfield, it would behoove the Dynamo to employ their 4-4-2 to counter. They’ve been outplayed badly in previous matches when they’ve been so outnumbered, and the added player, likely Oscar Garcia, gives the team needed defensive bite to match up. So which striker should sit? The most likely one would be Colombian Mauro Manotas. With Romell Quioto still recovering from an ankle injury, having a talented option off the bench to keep the squad fresh is a major boost.
Speaking of which, rotation will be an issue here. After games against Dallas and Salt Lake, some players are on quite a few minutes already. Don’t be surprised to see some players given limited minutes, especially if a draw is in the cards. One player whose
rotation won’t be a worry is DaMarcus Beasley, who has already left for national team duty. Dylan Remick has filled in nicely already and should be fine in this match, with the opposite flank being the stronger one for the Sounders. To that end, AJ Delagarza will need to be more careful at pushing forward than in the previous match. Against Real Salt Lake, AJ moved very high up the field, getting some shots off to boot. With Seattle having very good players on their left flank, he’ll be pushed back more and should stay there to negate the abilities of Jones and Oniel Fisher.
Seattle played midweek as well, being thumped by the Columbus Crew 3 – 0 away from the confines of Century Link Field. The cross-country trip comes after a drab 1 – 0 win over the Portland Timbers last weekend.
Will Houston continue Seattle’s misery? This match is certainly set up to do just that. The Sounders’ overall form isn’t great and they are missing three of their top offensive threats and returning home from a difficult road match, while Houston is doing the opposite. They’re relatively healthy and haven’t been hit hard, yet, with international absences. Unfortunately that 0-5-1 record, with three goals scored, says a lot. Until the Dynamo figure out how to get the offense working, it’s hard to pick them to win on the road, or even a draw. So the prediction is a 1 – 0 loss that puts them off the top spot of the Western Conference (which they temporarily lost to Sporting as of this writing).
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