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Game Preview: Three Questions with Houston Dynamo

Hey guys, sorry I got this up so late. Unfortunately due to extenuating circumstances (tire blow out) I'm in Austin and won't be live at the game as originally planned. I emailed Jordan from three questions regarding today's match. Below are his answers:

In the last game, it was a shoot out with the Red Bulls taking 21 shots
and the Dynamo 14. What changes have been made to the Dynamo defense to ensure that the duo of Juan Pablo Angel and Thierry Henry don't have
the opportunity to find the back of the net?

There really haven’t been any major changes to the Dynamo defense since the
two teams last played. Houston released veteran defender Craig Waibel
(who never really played), but no new players have been signed and Coach
Kinnear has been consistently running the same back line of Mike
Robinson, Eddie Robinson, Bobby Boswell, and Andrew Hainault. While this
is more or less the same group as last year, the defense this year has
not been near as effective or strong. As we saw in the last meeting of
the two teams, Houston’s defense seems susceptible to speed and counter
attacks, two things the Red Bulls are very good at. For Saturday’s
match, the Dynamo is without Bobby Boswell, who misses the game after
receiving two yellow cards against the Crew. This doesn’t bode well for
Houston and I honestly think that the Red Bulls will score at least one
goal tonight.

Brian Ching appears to be the only threat the Dynamo have on offense. Am I
missing something or is the team really as one dimensional as they
appear? They've lost some really close games which makes me think they
could be sitting 4th in the West.

This season Ching hasn’t been near as effective as seasons past. Because of
this, the scoring load (when Houston actually scores) has been carried
by the midfield players, who have the majority of the goals. Brad Davis,
Danny Cruz and Lovel Palmer have all contributed to the Dynamo’s
scoring tally, but I think Houston’s most creative player is Joseph
Ngwenya. The second-time Dynamo has the most creative feet and seems to
see the field the best of Houston’s attacking players. Unfortunatly,
Ngwenya carried a heavy load during SuperLiga and Open Cup play, so
Coach Kinnear has not been starting as much as I would like to see.
Ideally, I think Houston should start with Ching and Ngwenya up top as
part of a 4-4-2 or run a 4-4-3 with Dominic Oduro added to the attack.
However, I have a hunch that Houston will start with a 4-4-2 in order
maximize midfield players in an effort to contain New York’s attack.

The Dynamo seem to have a pretty difficult schedule going into the second
half the season. What are your realistic expectations for the team and
what needs to change for this team to make the playoffs?

For the run-in, the Dynamo are looking at two games against the Revolution,
Sounders, and Earthquakes and second games against Chicago, Colorado,
Kansas City, DC United and the Union; not an easy schedule. While I
really want to be a fanboy and say that Houston can make the playoffs, I
think fans need to temper their expectations. The club has struggled
this season with age, injuries, suspensions, and certainly the loss of
Stuart Holden, Ricardo Clark in the offseason and De Rosario last year.
Losing our midfield core has really hurt the team and put the club in a
position of trying to patch holes in the roster. I foresee the remainder
of the season, I see Coach Kinnear pushing to make a playoff run, but
doing so with a core group of the younger players of the club’s future.
Danny Cruz, Lovel Palmer, Corey Ashe and Tally Hall. I think the
coaching staff recognize that a playoff push is possible but not
probable and will start looking more to the future and giving the
younger guys more playing time. All of this will lead to an off-season
unload of older, expensive and less-effective players.