Owen Coyle and the Houston Dynamo come to RFK Stadium this weekend, and we think D.C. United has a pretty good chance of coming out with three points. Let us know how you think the team will do in the comments!
If ever there was a game D.C. United were destined to win 1-0, it's this one. Both sides are stingy on D and have issues to resolve going forward. (NB: Scoring 3 against an Impact side that arrived from a knockout match in Costa Rica 48 hours earlier does not constitute "resolving" anything.) That said, Los Capitalinos look to be the better side, and they have yet to concede a goal to any MLS team not from New Jersey this year (eat your heart out, Elias Sports Bureau). Jairo Arrieta finishes a Taylor Kemp cross late in the first half, and the rest of the game is a snore. Give me 1-0 good guys... Now watch it turn into a shootout.
Due respect to Adam's prediction (Hi Adam!), and despite the Elias pull, aside from a crap goal to OCSC, the Dynamo gave given up goals to MVP candidates last season in Oba Martins and Robbie Keane, and on the road at that. Assuming Silva and (a more intriguing proposition in) Farfan start the game, then I think the game becomes much easier and even a 2-0 win. Like Adam though, I'll call 1-0 DC with Silva continuing the roll.
In an effort to protect a vulnerable central defense - and because Will Bruin hasn't given him a reason to play 2 strikers - Coyle has quickly moved to turn his team into one that grinds games out. We're talking a "3 defensive midfielders starting" kind of grind. Houston's getting an adequate return from that tactical approach, so I expect them to try to make this a frustrating, uneventful visit to RFK. However, we saw United take some steps towards connecting more of their attacking passes and moving the ball more quickly last week; picking a bunkering team's lock is the next test in that department. I think United scores via Chris Pontius in the first half, and Luis Silva scores a second late on after Houston sends in what passes for their attacking cavalry. 2-0 DCU.
I don't know what it is about Houston. More than any other team, they seem to up their game whenever they play DC. In 2012, Houston came to RFK to finish off our season. In 2013, Houston came to RFK to humiliate us in the pouring rain of a midweek match. Last year, we took 2 of the 3 matches. And this year, Houston is dwelling in Western relegation territory. But the Dynamo make me nervous. Orange makes me nervous. Houston will play their best game yet of this season. I'm predicting a 2-2 final score.
Houston seems to play up to big opponents and play down to small opponents. Well, I think they treat us like a small opponent. They haven't played very well so far this season and I think we can catch them on the sneak with a couple goals from Rolfe and Silva. 2-0 United.
Relative to the rest of the league, neither of these two teams has seen a tremendous amount of the ball this season, so it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead in the possession battle. I feel it will be important because, aside from one spectacular blunder against Orlando, Tyler Deric has been stellar in goal for Houston, and United will need all of the time with the ball they can get to create chances to beat him. I'm in on another prosaic 1-0 victory. Hey, it doesn't have to be pretty.
It's tempting to see Houston as less of a threat to United than they have been in recent years, given the unimpressive season they've had so far. But I'm never comfortable counting any team out, to be honest, and especially not when that team is the Dynamo. They're always a thorn in the Black-and-Red's side. That said, I do think DCU get the win here, and I think the boys build off their stepped-up play from the first 70 or so minutes against the Red Bulls. It'll be ugly and frustrating at times, but ultimately I'll say United triumph, 3-1, with goals from Pontius, Silva, and Rolfe.
Houston has been a thorn in the side of United for years, with their long streak of losses at BBVA Compass Stadium and their seeming inability to ever perform as they should against the Dynamo. But with Dom Kinnear gone and Owen Coyle in, not to mention the fact that United finally figured them out last year, I think things have taken a turn. Give me a 2-1 win for United, with Chris Pontius and Chris Rolfe scoring, and Will Bruin will score for the Dynamo because of course.
What do you think will happen in the game between D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo? Let us know in the comments!