The Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo meet for the third time in 2015 (two MLS matches and a US Open Cup match) tonight and for both clubs there is a good deal on the line. The Rapids will want to keep their momentum going to try and get back into playoff discussion while the Dynamo will want a win to pull even on points for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff berth.
Derek from Dynamo Theory and I exchanged questions about this match and what we think will happen.
Burgundy Wave: Houston seems to be up and down this year where they string a couple of quality performances together and they drop a couple. Is it a matter of a team adapting to a new coach or something else?
Dynamo Theory: I think early in the season the team was adjusting to the coach and the coach was adjusting to the team. It was about Owen Coyle slowly bringing out the qualities and styles of play from his players while trying to get a result each week. He often tinkered with his lineups based on the competition, who was working hard in training, and what was working or not working.
While there were some early chemistry issues as the team and coach adapted to each other, the real stem of our consistency issues have been in the summer. The summer hit us with a lot of call-ups to the Gold Cup and the Copa America tournament along with a slew of injuries and a few untimely suspensions. We had at one time 8 players missing for those reasons of which most of the players were starting or starting caliber players including Giles Barnes, Oscar Boniek Garcia, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Taylor, and Luis Garrido - all starting players.
The team has begun to regain a bit of its form and consistency as players returned to health and as the summer tournaments concluded, but it's difficult to recover in the Western Conference when so many starting level players were missing for so long.
BW: Will Bruin and Brad Davis seem to fly under the radar each year, but they are both having good seasons again. What is the secret to their success and where would this team be without them?
DT: What makes Brad Davis so good is his vision as he's able to consistently pick out teammates in dangerous areas in live and dead ball situations. He's tremendously comfortable with the ball at his feet and understands the runs his players make. He's also a leader as the team's Captain and works hard to get those around him on the same page.
Will Bruin is, for some reason, a bit controversial here in Houston. He often seems one dimensional, but has developed a few areas of his game, other than his goal scoring, to make him a much better player than he was in the previous year. His runs off the ball have gotten very good and so has his passing (see highlights for our game last week at Portland for proof) and his holdup play has gotten a tad better as well. In a post game press conference, Bruin said he plays with a chip on his shoulder, likely due to the unfair criticism he receives, and he uses it to improve every week.
This team would not be "playoff relevant" without the two. Davis is once again racking up the assists, as he currently sits in 6th place in total assists this year with 7, and Bruin leads the team in goals with 10 goals which is good enough for 9th in the league. It's hard to imagine us in a competitive position in the Western Conference without the two.
BW: The big off season signing Cubo Torres has not made much of an impact yet. Is Owen Coyle slowly bringing him along to acclimate to the team or is there another reason for him only playing 113 minutes so far?
DT: Cubo is slowly becoming 90 minutes fit, but deciding where and when to put him into the lineup is more difficult. With Bruin playing well this year, it's hard to say he loses a spot. Giles Barnes has also played well this year, though not great lately, and he likely won't lose out either. Coyle has said that Cubo will start this year and that he would like to try Giles Barnes, Will Bruin, and Cubo together on the field at some point. When any of those things happens isn't known yet, but Cubo is getting to the point where he will be able to start a game soon.
Projected Lineup: (4-4-1-1): Tyler Deric; DaMarcus Beasley, Raul Rodriguez, David Horst, Sheanon Williams; Alex Lima, Luis Garrido, Giles Barnes, Boniek Garica; Brad Davis; Will Bruin.
Score prediction: 1-1. The Dynamo struggle to score on the road and the Rapids have an excellent defense. I'm hoping for 1-1 and not 0-0.
You can find my answers to his questions over at Dynamo Theory!