To get the lowdown on all things very very bright orange, we talked to Derek Stowers of SB Nation's Houston Dynamo blog.
Questions for Dynamo Theory
B&RU: How is the transition from Dom Kinnear to Owen Coyle going?
DT: All things considered, it’s off to as good a start as one could have hoped. Owen Coyle decided that he’s going to clog the field with defensive minded players until the team fully integrates his system and right now only the Colorado Rapids have allowed fewer goals. That defensive mindedness comes at the expense of the offense, which is admittedly a work in progress as the team has, until last week’s 3-0 win over Montreal, struggled to find the net. If the team can keep their defensive composure and score the occasional goal, things may go our way while we wait for Cubo to arrive.
B&RU: Brad Davis seems to be ageless; how is he performing this year and how much longer can he perform at this level?
DT: A number of fans have pointed out this year that Brad Davis looks to be struggling a little bit in his production and looks sluggish, though the statistics prove that he’s still an accurate, key pass making machine and his set piece delivery is still spot on. Two things about Davis this year: first, he picked up an injury in the final preseason game and hasn’t looked quite as amazing as he had earlier in the preseason. Second, while Brad Davis is still capable of being a fixture for the Dynamo, and could be for any team really, I don’t believe the team can lean on him to be THE difference maker. He probably has a couple more years left of being a go-to assist maker, and he’s playing very intelligent defense now, but he won’t be the guy the Dynamo, or any team could lean on like an MVP caliber player.
B&RU: We here in D.C. still have love for Joe Willis, but it seems like Tyler Deric has locked down that spot; how confident are you in the goalkeeping and the defense?
DT: Since Tyler Deric took over the head goalkeeping position after Tally Hall’s ACL injury last year, he’s proved that he’s not only capable of being a starter, but a top GK in the league. This year he’s been on 2 MLS Team of the Weeks (and on the "bench" in another) and has won Save of the Week 3 times and it is just week 7. He’s simply playing out of his mind at the moment – though please disregard his gaffe against Orlando City SC. The Dynamo play a 5 man midfield with 3 defensive midfielders which provides tremendous support for the defense. Given the Dynamo stubbornness to leak goals and minimized mistakes out of the back this year, I’m very confident in how they are performing and how they can perform.
B&RU: Lineup and prediction?
DT: Projected Lineup: Deric; Beasley, Taylor, Horst*, Sarkodie; Davis, Sturgis, Garrido, Clark, Boniek*, Barnes
*If Raul Rodriguez can play he’ll get the start over Horst and if Boniek cannot play then I’d expect Leonel Miranda to get the go ahead to play RM.
Prediction: This is a battle between two goalkeepers playing at very high levels and I think they keep things pretty tidy in the back. 1-1 Draw.
Questions for Black and Red United
DT: D.C. United placed first in the Eastern Conference last season and currently sit in first in the East again. What are the expectations this season about how far DCU can go?
B&RU: Most fans expect that D.C. United will contend for the Eastern Conference crown again this year, with the spot in the Concacaf Champions League that comes with it. There is a debate, however, over whether or not Ben Olsen's system is situated for a playoff run to MLS Cup. In 2012, they were one missed red card away from possibly taking on the LA Galaxy for MLS Cup. This past season, they fell short in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Red Bulls. Another first round exit would be disappointing, and with the way the Eastern Conference is playing out so far this season, any number of teams have a reasonable shot at making MLS Cup; so why not D.C. United?
DT: Despite having a pretty good record to start the year with 3-1-1, DC has had trouble closing out games and giving up goals as they’ve only scored 5 goals and allowed 4 goals in 5 games. The team is getting results, but are they convincing? If they aren’t what needs to happen for blowout wins?
B&RU: The funny part is that D.C. United's most complete performance, the last game against the New York Red Bulls, was a game in which they gave up two late goals. Their wins have been on the back of excellent play by Bill Hamid and the defense, with some timely scoring by players like Chris Pontius, Jairo Arrieta, and Luis Silva. What they need is for their injured and suspended players to come back, which leads us into the last question...
DT: D.C. is a little banged up at the moment with players like Steve Birnbaum and Nick DeLeon on the injury report and now goalkeeper Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen are with the USMNT. Will DC be getting any injured or called up players back and what’s the game plan if that isn’t the case?
B&RU: Luis Silva is the main player who has been injured at the beginning of the season and who could start this game. Fabian Espindola has been suspended for the first six games of this season for shoving a ref in the playoffs last year, and luckily for Houston this game is his last one out. Steve Birnbaum and Markus Halsti are still both a couple of weeks away from coming back, and both should be starters when they are healthy. Nick DeLeon should be healthy and in the mix to start this game, and I would imagine that both Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen will start as well. Finally, Eddie Johnson is out indefinitely and the rumor has it that he may have to retire.
DT: Lineup and predictions?
B&RU: Lineup: Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp; Nick DeLeon, Davy Arnaud, Perry Kitchen, Chris Rolfe; Jairo Arrieta, Chris Pontius
Prediction: United are pretty good at home, so give me a 2-1 victory for United. I think Will Bruin will somehow score for Houston, because he always finds a way.