MLS Preview-Week 12

Both Texas MLS teams are at home this week.  The Dynamo play their 7th home match in 10 to open the season.  FC Dallas plays their only 2017 regular season match against a strong NYCFC side this week.

Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

BBVA Compass Stadium-Houston-7:30 p.m., Friday, May 12, 2017

  • Vancouver will be looking to win their third consecutive road match tonight in Houston, in the final game of their three game stretch away from home.  Previous victories in Montreal and Colorado over the last few weeks are not out of the ordinary for the Whitecaps.  Interestingly, they have won almost as many road games (13) as home games (17) since the beginning of the 2015 season.  In an interview with Glenn Davis on Soccer Matters earlier this week, Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson talked about how he follows a deliberate strategy to play more aggressively to win on the road, instead of looking to play conservatively and hope for a draw like the approach many in MLS follow.  Whitecaps FC has only given up 4 goals in the last 4 games, thanks in part to the strong performance of the three-man midfield of Matias Laba, Andrew Jacobson and Tony Tchani.  Former Dynamo right-back Sheanon Williams returns to Houston for the first time since his off-season trade to Vancouver.  Bryan-native Brek Shea makes his first appearance in Texas since his early season trade from Orlando.
  • The Dynamo has only played Vancouver nine times during the Whitecap’s short history.  Neither team has ever won on the road in this rivalry.  The only draw in the series was played in Houston.
  • Mauro Manotas was named to the MLS Team of the Week after his brace against Orlando City FC last Saturday.  The four key Dynamo forwards, Manotas/Elis/Quito/Torres have scored 18 of the 19 Dynamo goals so far this year….a dramatic difference from the trend last year when goals from forwards were few and far between.  Alberth Elis’s game-winning goal last week was named MLS Goal of the Week:

https://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2017/05/11/houstons-alberth-elis-wins-att-mls-goal-week-week-10

  • Alex Lima received recognition this week when he was named to the MLS Best-XI, selected by Matthew Doyle on mlssoccer.com, for the first quarter of the season. Alex is currently tied for the league lead with six assists, after only having four others in previous 121 MLS game career.  In the Best-XI article, Doyle described Alex’s breakout season as follows: “Somehow in 2017 he’s become the league’s most effective two-way midfielder.”
  • The only depressing news to come out of last Saturday is that midfielder Eric Alexander, who has performed admirably this year, will be out 8-12 weeks with a right knee strain.
  • This will be the final game in the long home-heavy opening stretch of the season. After tonight’s match, Houston will play 6 of the next 7 on the road, where they have yet to secure any kind of result.

FC Dallas (FCD) vs. New York City FC (NYCFC)

Toyota Stadium-Frisco-7:00 p.m., Sunday, May 14, 2017

  • Undefeated FC Dallas returns home to face New York City FC on Sunday night.  FCD currently is tied for first place in the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City, but leads in goal differential and has played two less games.  NYCFC sits in third place in the Eastern Conference, six points behind leaders Toronto…though they have also played two fewer games. This will be the only regular season meeting between the two teams. Because NYCFC is a relatively new expansion team, Sunday’s match will be only the third meeting between the two sides.  FCD won the inaugural game in Dallas in 2015 and drew at Yankee Stadium last year.
  • New York has a number of threatening attacking options.  David Villa, who is the best forward in MLS, Jack Harrison and off-season signings Rodney Wallace and Maxi Morales have scored 15 or their 17 goals this year. Italian legend Andrea Pirlo has been relegated to the bench because of the wealth of attackers available to head coach Patrick Viera.  Holding midfielder Alexander Ring, who also joined in the offseason, was selected by Matt Doyle as the best holding midfielder for the first quarter of the season in the MLS Best XI discussed in the Dynamo preview.
  • FCD head coach Oscar Pareja has certainly been willing to adjust formations to reflect the opposition, and the players and the form they are in, this season.  It will be interesting to see how he sets the formation up to counter the attacking strength of NYCFC.  Matt Doyle on mlssoccer.com talked about this when asked why Dallas has been so successful this season in the quote below.  It would provide more options for Pareja, however, if Cristian Colman got untracked and scored a goal.  There are no metrics that can guarantee whether a high paid attacking player is successful.  I hope this is just an adjustment period, though FCD have had their share of high played attackers who didn’t work out.

To me, that says the No. 1 reason for their success is the guy on the sideline prepping them every single week: Oscar Pareja. He’s gotten buy-in from, it seems, everybody on the roster, and his squad has achieved a state of perpetual gestalt regardless of who’s missing.

There are other reasons, too:

They have the best center back pairing in MLS

They have a top three central midfield pairing on the defensive side of the ball

They have one of the best defensive forwards in MLS

They can mix-and-match personnel and formation

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