After a loss at Columbus, the Houston Dynamo continue their road trip with a tilt against one of the hottest teams in MLS, Real Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake last season was one of the cellar dwellers in the Western Conference along with Houston and Colorado. What a turn around six months has been for this team meaning RSL. With two games in hand on Western Conference leading FC Dallas, they technically have the best record (4-1-2, 14 points) in Major League Soccer. We are still waiting for the Dynamo (1-4-2, five points) turn around. So how do the two teams match up and what can we expect from the Dynamo side.
Houston comes in licking its wounds from another loss and yet savoring the opportunity to show that the changes Houston Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle made last week in Columbus were the right moves assuming of course that he goes with those once more. Coyle said he was pleased with all five despite the fact that Tyler Deric and Collin Warner saw their night end after 20 minutes; Deric for the red card and Warner as collateral damage for Deric’s miscue. Outside of that Agus looked good next to Raul Rodriguez and I say go with that again. Sheanon Williams in his 2016 debut fared well and go ahead keep that one for another game. Maybe we will see a little more of Abdoulie Mansally at the back or midfield especially against his old team.
The move to put in Warner and Boniek Garcia and sit Maidana was one that might need a rethink. The absence of Alex should be an opening for Leonel Miranda. As for Bruin, there have been better scoring combinations sitting on the bench. Obviously with Mauro Manotas starting over in the valley for the Toros at the same time the club is in Salt Lake, teaming him with “Cubo” Torres is not going to happen. What’s wrong with a little Barnes and Torres up top though?
Houston will have to come out mentally tough ready to play a full 90 minutes just like last week against Columbus. Playing a man down for more than three-quarters of the match last week against Columbus, we saw a toughness we haven’t seen in a long time in Houston. We saw a determination not seen in a quite a spell with this franchise. The match with the Crew could very well be a turning point for this club.
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RSL has been the most prolific club to start the 2016 campaign. The Utah based franchise enters having won or earned a draw in six of their first seven matches. Add to that the fact that they have also won the last four meetings between these two clubs and the Houston Dynamo will have their work cut out for them. At Rio Tinto, Real Salt Lake has taken points in the last seven matches against Houston.
Questions to be answered and things to watch for on Saturday night include;
Can Juan Miguel Martinez continue his scoring rate or will Houston contain him? Martinez has netted goals in each of his last two contests. Of course that’s assuming they contain Jaoa Plata (four goals in seven games) too.
Will the Houston offense that has so often and effectively pushed the attack and set the pace of the game in the first half this season show up for an entire game. The Houston Dynamo have the conditioning and ability to run the opposition into the ground.
Will Houston score first and win on the road? Houston has always been bad on the road regardless of the site. With only one winning road season in their first ten and only two road wins in 17 tries last season, something has to give. RSL has a home record of 18-5-11 in the last two season. When Houston falls behind, they have shown no resolve to recovering and when the opposition scores first pack up your bags because the game is over. On Saturday, it will take mental toughness and a steady focus all match long if Houston is to come away with a win.
Saturday night could be a major turning point in this season or it could be the continuation of a lost season. By 11:30p.m.CDT, we should have the answer.