The Houston Dynamo FC coming off a loss to restart the MLS season return home to host the Chicago Fire who stopped a winless skid beating DC United in their last outing. Houston needs to do a lot right to come away with the win. Here are three things to keep an eye on in this match.
Everything goes through the middle of the pitch. Success starts and stops with your defensive mids and your attacking mids. If Houston can sustain their possessions and force the play into the attacking third, it allows the outside backs like Zeca and Adam Lundkvist to move and help facilitate play from the inside. This makes guys like Sebas Ferreira even more dangerous than he has been but opens the possibility of the attacking mids to wait for a mistake in a clearance and then pounce.
This has been a sore point for this team. They have lost the possession battle in four out of their last five matches. Possessions come down to avoiding the unforced error and stringing plenty of passes to get into a scoring situation. Although their passing accuracy has been relatively high their opponents have also done better in four of the last five matches. The lack of possession and accuracy puts pressure on your defense because it leads to quick and dangerous counters. Coco Carrasquilla and Memo Rodriguez along with Matias Vera assuming he plays are going to have to control the ball and the tempo. If they do, it's a whole lot easier to control the scoreboard.
How does this team come out to start the game will be the key factor in this match. Come out slow and a guy like Xherdan Shaqiri and Gaston Gimenez will make you pay. The team has been working its sense of urgency all season and its been a rollercoaster ride. At the very least, they need to match the energy of Chicago. The Fire comes in riding the momentum of a 2-0 win over DC United. Houston needs to quell that quickly. They can't afford to chase the game. Over the last five games, they only have two first half goals but both came before the quarter hour. That's what they need against Chicago. Chicago has given up three goals before the 25th minute in their last five outings. Urgency will be the name of the game.
"This game is more about us than the team we're facing. We really want to come out really aggressive, on the front foot. Especially playing at home, we've been away for many games now, so it's going to be very nice to be back home in front of our fans. We want to give them a good performance so that we can set the tone for the rest of the season." Adam Lundvkist