The Houston Dynamo host CF Montreal on Saturday night in an almost must win situation if they intend on having any playoff opportunity. Montreal sits third in the Eastern Conference while Houston is twelth in the Western Conference and falling fast.
Two teams that are polar opposites of each other in 2022. The best news of all though might be that of the seven matches at PNC Stadium, Houston has been on the winning side of the ledger. Coaches will tell you that those things don't really matter so let's look at three things that do.
First, the offense must find a way to ripple the back of the nets. Scoring five goals in five games is not going to win you a lot of games especially when your goal differential is minus nine over that span. Houston has only scored multiple goals in a game eight times this season. Only three times in their last 10 contests while the opposition has scored to or more in those ten matches. It's been a problem all season and now they face a CF Montreal team that has scored multiple goals in all their road matches since May 14th.
Second, Houston's defense and team as a whole has to find a way to stop giving up late goals. Seven goals in the last 20 minutes play since Hector Herrera's debut on July 9th is bad but when more then half come after 88th minute there is a serious problem. Houston needs to find a way to keep sending the same players onto the pitch for the full 90 game in and game out and they have to play all out for entire match.
"Montreal is a very, very solid team," described Houston Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura. "For me, one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. A very complete team, very solid defensively. Good offensively, good in transition and set pieces. It's going to be a good game against a good opponent that is playing really well. At the end of the day, it is about us. Despite our result last weekend, I think the team performed well for most of the game. We have got to have a full game performance, that is the idea. We have to concentrate for the entire match and build on the positives that we had in the last game against Vancouver."
Former Dynamo forward Romell Quioto is having possibly the best season of his career. He is coming off a brace against Inter Miami in his last outing. His last five goals have all come in the opening 35 minutes of play with his last three coming even faster in the first 21 minutes of the match. The defense can ill afford not to find a way to mark this player.
Third, if there is a possible silver lining it is that since June 25th, Montreal has surrendered four goals in the opening 15 minutes of play. Maybe Houston can come out with some urgency and find a way to make the team from the North chase the match. Especially since three of their last 11 goals have come after the hour mark.
"We want to score first," concluded Nagamura. "We need to keep a clean sheet, we want to win games. In order for us to be that team at home, I think we have to score first, we have to be solid defensively and we have to be able to have clean sheets. Other than that, it is going to be the same story. We are focused on that, we are working on that and hopefully, we can have another positive performance on Saturday."
No matter what this is must win game for Houston against a quality opponent and its at home where the Dynamo should have the advantage. Kick-off is set for 8:00pm CT.