MLS Week 2 Preview

After opening week victories, both FC Dallas (FCD) and Houston Dynamo hope to build on the positive momentum established last weekend.

The Dynamo face a tough match against the Eastern Conference’s Columbus Crew (7:30 p.m., Saturday).  The Dynamo have only won 5 of the 22 games (5-7-10) they have played against Columbus since their move from San Jose to Houston after the 2005 season. The Crew won the only meeting in 2016 (1-0) in Columbus. Though the Dynamo won the 2015 match in Houston, they were extremely fortunate, as Columbus carried the game and should have secured at least a draw.  As discussed earlier this week, the different style approaches…deliberate build out of the back from Columbus and counterattacking by Houston have the potential to produce an exciting game.

Dynamo TV commentator Eddie Robinson, on Wednesday’s Glenn Davis’s Soccer Matters podcast, provided further insight into the game-within-the game match-up against Columbus.  Dynamo wingers Rommel Quioto and Alberth Elis did not have a lot of defensive responsibility last week.   The resulting attacking approach led to a very exciting first half (the Dynamo had an astonishing 15 shots during the opening 45 minutes), but Seattle’s dominance in the second half demonstrated the impact the go-go style had on the three man Dynamo midfield.  If the wingers continue to stay high this weekend, Eddie believes that Coach Wilmer Cabrera will need to tell his midfielders to “slow down”, because it was clear that their first half pace was not sustainable.  Two of the three midfielders were substituted out, with Ricardo Clark leaving early in the second half. Eddie believes the challenge facing Cabrera is how to set up the midfield-three to allow them to come out of the middle to defend the opponents outside backs when they attack, without completely exhausting themselves.  Former Dynamo left back, Corey Ashe, also on the podcast and who recently retired after playing for the Crew, then pointed out that Columbus will likely push their outside backs forward and implement their tactical scheme…using the mobility of their outside backs and midfielders (especially Federico Higuain) to create overloads (odd-man advantages) against isolated Dynamo defenders. Ashe conversely pointed out that this approach can leave Columbus extremely exposed if Houston can play the ball directly over the Crew attacking defenders to Quioto and Elis, who can use their pace to expose the Columbus defense.

FC Dallas’s path is a little more tricky.  First, they are on the road at Sporting Kansas City (8:00 p.m. Saturday) against a revitalized opponent, who is a dark-horse pick to finish near the top of the Western Conference and to be a serious MLS Cup contender.  Second, they need to tackle this challenge while keeping in mind the first leg of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series against Pachuca CF (Mexico) next Wednesday night in Frisco.  It will be very interesting to see how FCD manager Oscar Pareja rotates the squad to handle the multiple games.  The Pachuca game will be the 5th in the first three weeks of the season. Fortunately, after Tuesday nights game, there will be a three-week break before the second leg of the series is played in Mexico.

Sporting KC (SKC) drew 0-0 at DC United on opening weekend, so this will be their home opener.  Sporting has never lost a home opener since moving into Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS in 2011. Additionally, SKC will be looking to add to the four consecutive home victories they have recently enjoyed against FC Dallas.  Much of this home success has come through forward Dom Dwyer and midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who have tormented FCD recently.  SKC has a slight advantage in all-time results (23-21-11) against Dallas.  Dallas enters the game with one additional injury after last weeks opening 2-1 win against Los Angeles.  Anibal Chala, the new Ecuadorian Young Designated left back, is out for a month with a Sports Hernia injury.

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