There is no question that the Houston Dynamo are a different team than last year…even after only one week. Wilmer Cabrera clearly laid down the gauntlet at his press conference on Saturday night. “We’re not a team that’s going to be possession-oriented because we don’t have those type of players. We have attackers. We have guys who are dynamic. And we have midfielders who work hard. So this is going to be the Houston Dynamo.”
The game statistics bear that bold statement out. Seattle had 64% of the possession on Saturday, though falling 2-0 down in the first half certainly contributed to the Sounders second half possession dominance. Cabrera added “It’s not about having more possession, Right now it’s about, when we attack we need to be more effective.” The Dynamo are playing a pure 4-3-3 formation with both outside wingers playing high. This style will certainly lead to some anxiety for Dynamo supporters as the season progresses. Last Saturday, for example, the outside backs for Seattle, especially Joevin Jones (who looked like the second coming of Brazilian Roberto Carlos), spent extraordinary spells of time in the Dynamo half of the field. Because Seattle sent seemingly all of their team forward in the second half and the three Dynamo attackers stayed high most of the time, the Dynamo midfielders and defenders were constantly challenged to keep their shape. Given the Dynamo backline’s three new starters and the Columbian League’s carry-over suspension for new holding midfielder Juan David Cabezas, however, the results were outstanding despite the constant second half pressure. Kudos to Eric Alexander who played a superb game in place of Cabezas.
Immediately after the game, the the media caught Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer in a very candid mood. When asked his thoughts on the Dynamo strategy to attack and high press in the first 15 minutes, Schmetzer certainly sounded dubious about Houston’s ability to sustain the new attack style and identity going forward. After stating that Cabrera had set his team up to play as a counterattacking team, Schmetzer then said “We will see how that plays out for the rest of the year. It’s a dangerous game he (Cabrera) is playing. When it works on nights like tonight…OK…great. Congratulations to Wilmer, but you know, it’s a bit risky at times”.
Columbus Crew FC are the next opponent for the new and exciting Dynamo. Though Columbus finished in 9th place in the East last year, they are only 15 months removed from an MLS Cup appearance. Many observers pick the Crew to rebound sharply and be a playoff team again this year. The Crew present a new challenge, as their primary tactical strategy is to attempt to play out of the back in a more deliberate way…very different than Houston’s approach. On Monday night’s Glenn Davis Soccer Matters show, Gregg Berhalter was excited about the starkly different styles that would be on display this week in Houston. “When you look at our team, obviously, we like to build from the back and they (Dynamo) like to press and those make the most intriguing games”. He continued “Something’s going to give. I am looking forward to the game and I think it will be great for the fans to watch”.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. CST at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium this Saturday. The Dynamo have a front-loaded home schedule, so it behooves the team to pick up as many points as possible early in the season.