MLS Week 5 Preview

After the international break, Houston Dynamo resume the MLS regular season at home against New York Red Bulls.  FC Dallas’s previously scheduled game this weekend has been rescheduled for later this season. The team is now in Mexico preparing for Tuesday nights huge second-leg CONCACAF Champions League semi-final match.

Houston Dynamo vs. New York Red Bulls

BBVA Compass Stadium-7:30 p.m., Saturday April 1

The Dynamo will be attempting to get back on the winning track after losing their first road game of the year in Portland two weeks ago.  The team is facing an injury crisis early in the season.  Forward Rommel Quioto, who has been the best player so far in this young season, will be out two to four weeks with a separated shoulder, suffered in a World Cup Qualifier for Honduras last Friday night.  Additionally, new holding midfielder Juan David Cabezas was declared out of tomorrow’s game because of a concussion he suffered in training this week.  Two other key reserves who have not played as of yet this season, goalkeeper Joe Willis and defender Agus, are also still on the injury list.  Further complicating matters, because starters Alberth Elis and Adolfo Machado played a full match in Qualifiers on Tuesday, Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera stated this week that he is not sure if or how much either will play this weekend.

The Dynamo spent the break working on fixing mistakes identified early in the season and also continuing their work-in-progress implementing the new 4-3-3 formation.

“The coaching staff has been identifying some things that we could do better as we move this along after the Portland game,” said forward Andrew Wenger.  “We’ve just been trying to be a little bit more aggressive in the right areas and possess the ball at certain times.”  Wenger continued on Houston,  “There has been probably two parts to it, we have been trying to implement some progress on what we are trying to do tactically, awareness-wise and playing-wise. Also, there is a little bit of base for the rest of the season.”

New York Red Bulls (NYRB) have been one of the most successful teams in the MLS Regular Season over the last few years, though they have struggled in the playoffs throughout their history.  They are led by forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who won the Golden Boot as the leagues top scorer last season.  Wright-Phillips was rewarded with a new lucrative Designated Player contract earlier this week that will keep him with the club for the next few years. United States international Sasha Kljestan, who was a finalist along with Wright-Phillips for MLS Most Valuable Player last season, pulls the strings in midfield for Red Bulls and is a passing machine.

NYRB has struggled a bit this season as coach Jesse Marsch is implementing (at least starting out matches playing) a new 4-2-2-2 formation.  Additionally, key center-midfielder and former FC Dallas player, Dax McCarty, was traded to Chicago in the off-season.  He is being replaced by two promising, but inexperienced, youngsters from their Academy.  The Red Bulls are also trying to work Norwegian international forward Fredrik Gulbrandsen, a recent transfer from Austrian sister-club FC Red Bull Salzburg, into the lineup.

The Red Bulls play a high-pressing style and it will be interesting to see how the Dynamo, who now play a similar style, respond to the challenge of playing this talented side shorthanded.  Despite all of the early season changes in the Red Bulls, they have started 2-1-1, losing only to defending MLS champion Seattle Sounders on the road. NYRB did not take the international week off and, in only one of four MLS matches played during Week 3, finished with a 0-0 home draw against Real Salt Lake last Saturday…a game that will definitely not go down as one of the best in MLS history. New York has certainly been fortunate so far.   The Red Bulls technically have scored four times this year, but they have benefited from the fact that two of these were match winning own-goals against Atlanta and Colorado.

NYRB is 3-4-6 all time when playing in Houston.  The Dynamo wish they had that kind of record when playing NYRB away.   Despite the MLS success Houston experienced from 2006-2012, they never won in New Jersey during those years (or ever for that matter) (0-8-2).  The Red Bulls enter the match relatively healthy, but will likely still be missing Designated Player Argentinian forward Gonzalo Veron who has not played yet this season.


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