Weekly Preview-MLS Week 7, USL Week 4

Only three of the Texas professional teams will be in action this weekend. Rio Grande Valley, after beating Colorado Springs 3-1 on Wednesday night, will next play at home against Tulsa on Saturday April 22.  Only FC Dallas, who face the Earthquakes in San Jose, will travel this week.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas (FCD)

Avaya Stadium-San Jose, CA-9:00 p.m. CDT, Friday April 14, 2017

To avoid play on Easter Sunday, MLS has scheduled FCD to play the late match on the West Coast as part of a rare Friday night triple-header of league action.

The Earthquakes are currently 2-2-1 (5th place in the west), after winning their first two games of the season.  It took a 90th minute strike from former Houston Dynamo forward Chris Wondolowski to secure a draw with Seattle at home last week.  Wondolowski continues to have a remarkable career since leaving the Dynamo. His 123 all-time MLS goals put him within striking distance of a number of goal-scoring MLS records, including most game-winners and road goals.  Since 2010, he has also scored 33 more times than any other MLS player over the same period. Anibal Godoy is tied with Wondo for the team scoring lead early in this season with 2 goals.  Costa Rica international forward Marco Urena, who joined the team in late January, has started all 5 matches and picked up a goal and an assist in the last two.

Dallas is 20-25-14 all-time against San Jose, including a 8-15-7 record on the road.  It is interesting to note that a substantial part of FCD’s poor record came immediately prior to San Jose’s late 2005 relocation to Houston.  FCD had a miserable 1-9-4 record in the last 14 games played between the Earthquakes and Dallas, prior to San Jose’s hiatus and the formation of the Dynamo.  This domination continued over the first two Dynamo MLS Cup winning years.  Their record against FCD was 5-1-2 in 2006-2007, not including their US Open Cup and playoff series victories.  Things are a little different today.  FCD has won 6 of the last 8 Texas Derby matches.

FCD enters the game on a roll and is now 3-0-1.  Despite playing fewer games than most, they have the best record in the league on a points-per-game basis.  FCD currently is in 2nd place in the Western Conference, three points behind Portland Timbers.

Head coach Oscar Pareja changed-up FCD’s formation in last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Minnesota.  Javier Morales made his first start of the season in a 5-man midfield, replacing forward Cristian Colman.  Morales rewarded Pareja by scoring a late first-half goal off assists by Walker Zimmerman and Michael Barrios.  Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez and midfielder Barrios were named to the MLS Team of the Week after their strong performances against Minnesota.  Hernan Grana apparently did not travel to San Jose and likely will be replaced at right back by Atiba Harris.

This is the first of two meetings this year between San Jose and Dallas.  The return match will be in Dallas in a little less than a month.

Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United

BBVA Compass Stadium-Houston-7:30 p.m., Saturday April 15, 2017

The Dynamo look to improve to 4-0 at home when they face Minnesota United this Saturday night.  Houston now sits tied for 3rd place in the Western Conference with 9 points.  Minnesota, after their 2-0 loss to Dallas on Saturday, are tied for last in the same conference with 4 points.  Rommel Quioto, who has missed the last two weeks with a shoulder injury is expected to be available for selection as is Juan David Cabezas. Unfortunately, the Dynamo will be without two starting defenders, AJ DeLaGarza and Leonardo again this weekend.

Despite the favorable early season record, Dynamo Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera expressed concern this week about the number of goals the team has conceded.  The nine goals given away ranks them near the bottom of the league…only Vancouver and Minnesota have given up more so far this year.  Two defensive mistakes last week cost them in their 2-0 loss to New England, but the lack of offense hurt them as much as the goals conceded. Cubo Torres missed a golden opportunity when he was sprung-in alone on the Revolution goalkeeper.  His poor first touch unfortunately cost the team a chance to take the first-half lead. These are opportunities that the Dynamo can’t afford to miss, especially on the road.  This season the Dynamo have been able to punish opponents mistakes with their high pressing, as the majority of their goals have been scored with one pass or less. New England’s defense did not allow this opportunistic poaching to happen last Saturday and the Dynamo lacked an alternative plan to break them down.

Minnesota has been dangerous offensively this season, scoring 10 goals so far-the 4th most in the league.  Christian Ramirez and Kevin Molino lead the team in scoring….4 and 3 respectively.  United were unlucky to be shut-out in Dallas last week.  After FCD went up 2-0, Minnesota had numerous excellent chances and it took a yeoman effort by Dallas goalkeeper to keep United at bay.  On the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota tightened up significantly last week with the introduction of holding midfielder Sam Cronin and left back Mark Burch, who are two solid MLS veterans acquired in late March from Colorado.

This game marks the return of Collen Warner to Houston.  Warner who locked down the Dynamo’s holding midfielder position last year after previous coach Owen Coyle’s departure, was picked up in the offseason by Minnesota in the MLS Expansion Draft .

This is the first of three meetings between the two teams this year. The Dynamo travel to Minnesota in July and United returns to Houston in September.

San Antonio FC (SAFC) vs. Reno 1868

Toyota Field-San Antonio-7:30 p.m., Saturday April 15, 2017

This is the first meeting between SAFC and Reno 1868.  Reno has gotten off to a slow start in their first year, with only one draw in three games.  The team is led by veteran Dane Kelly (51 goals so far in his now seventh USL season) who scored twice off the bench in their wild 5-3 loss to Real Monarchs on April 6th.  The Earthquakes have also loaned highly touted US youth international midfielder Jackson Yueill to 1836 this year.  Yueill was taken by the Earthquakes with the 5th pick of the 2016 MLS college Super Draft.

Reno 1868 (the year Reno was founded) entered the league prior to this season as one of three expansion teams.  They formed a hybrid relationship with the San Jose Earthquakes, similar to Houston’s affiliation with Rio Grande Valley.  All of the players and technical staff are provided and controlled by San Jose.  1868 is coached by former San Jose Earthquakes player and assistant coach Ian Russell.

This is the final game in SAFC’s three game home stand.  Kris Tyrpak, who scored the marvelous tying goal (below) in the 1-1 draw with Colorado Springs last Saturday, was nominated for USL Goal of the Week.  This game also saw the USL debut of Devin Vega, the former San Antonio Scorpions Academy and Bradenton US Soccer residency program player.  After the Scorpions Academy folded in 2015, Vega joined the FC Dallas Academy.  While playing in Dallas he scored 14 goals in 39 U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy appearances and was also part of their side that won the 2016 U 17-18 Developmental Academy championship.  Vega was also the first San Antonio product, since the beginning of the century, to represent the United States at the U 17 level.



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