Chivas USA are set to play the Houston Dynamo for the only time this season on Saturday. The Dynamo started 2014 well, but have been on a six game winless streak, almost matching Chivas' seven game winless mark. Can either side grab that elusive win this week? We'll find out on Saturday. In the meantime, we are happy to welcome a first-time partner to the Three Questions crew, as Sean, aka Fuzion, of SB Nation Dynamo blog Dynamo Theory answered some questions about the visitors. Big thanks to Sean for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Dynamo Theory:
1. Houston started out of the blocks this season on fire, but the flame has diminished in recent weeks. What's going on with the Dynamo of late, and are you concerned about their form?
Two things. First, the first two games were more aberrations than reality. Circumstances leading into the first match already had New England at a disadvantage with two of their starters at full back out. This was compounded by the Dynamo fielding their entire true starting XI. Since then, the Dynamo have fielded that squad not once. That isn't an excuse, but more just the reality of how the Houston Dynamo are built. When their starters go down, such as Brad Davis, they struggle.
Defensively, you've seen a changing of the guard. I'll add more to this in response to question 3.
2. Chivas have struggled defensively this season. Who is the Dynamo's best bet for breaking down an admittedly shaky Goats' defense?
Set piece play. With Davis set to play at least 80 minutes, the Dynamo will best break down Chivas through set pieces. There are few service guys in MLS with the service ability of Davis, as almost anyone who follows MLS knows by this point. The man who might be on the end of that service is most likely to be Ricardo Clark, if he goes. If he doesn't go, look for either David Horst or Will Bruin with a third option of Giles Barnes.
3. On the flipside, what are Houston's big weaknesses on the defensive end? How do opponents typically break them down?
This defense is an interesting specimen. On the one hand, they are usually quite solid at killing the counter and breakaways. On the other hand, mental lapses seem to be the norm more than not, usually resulting in goalkeeper Tally Hall being left on an island. The New York Red Bulls match is the blueprint for breaking the Dynamo defense down, and it starts with crisp, clean passing from the midfield and forwards.
If the passes stay crisp and clean, and Chivas can keep the Dynamo offense at bay, then I fully expect Chivas to crack the scoreline. Possession lulls the defense to sleep, and the more the Dynamo full backs press higher up, the easier the counter becomes. If Chivas can force Corey Ashe and Kofi Sarkodie to press higher up, then they can expect to have the run of the backline for a good bulk of the match.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this game?
2-2 Draw. I expect Chivas to capitalize on Dynamo mistakes, and vice versa. Both clubs need something more on defense from a mental standpoint, and until either can show they have the ability to fix those mistakes it will be a back and forth counter-fest.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!