Our series of swapping questions with other SB Nation blogs ahead of MLS matches continues with Dynamo Theory(DT), who cover the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash of the NWSL. We swapped questions with DT Editor Gribbs.
OaM: 2015 is the first year that the Houston Dynamo do not have Dominic Kinnear at the helm. Is the direction of the team different under Owen Coyle? If so, how?
DT: Owen Coyle has shown that he is far more willing to experiment with formations, lineups, and tactics than his predecessor. It was big news a few years ago when Dominic Kinnear switched from his favored 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3, but Coyle has already implemented numerous formations and lineup personnel.
So far, much of what Coyle has done has been met with success in one degree or another. Early in the year he utilized a 5 man midfield to help solidify the team's defense while the offense found its feet. Now he's largely leaning on the efforts of Will Bruin and Giles Barnes up top (with Barnes playing a withdrawn forward role) which has proven very successful over the last few games. It's this adaptive mindset that sets Coyle apart from Kinnear. Kinnear would play his strongest lineup week in and week out (which is a fine strategy itself), while Coyle is willing to tinker based on the competition and circumstances of the match.
Lastly, the Dynamo traditionally have been a weaker team on the road and have been more willing to settle for road draws, but Coyle has instilled a "every game matters" mentality and though the results have not always come up, the effort on the road looks vastly different than under Kinnear.
OaM: Houston's 17 points would be good enough for 3rd in the East but they currently sit at 8th in the West. How is the team adjusting to life in the West?
DT: I believe firmly that Houston, at heart, is a Western Conference team. It was convenient for the team to move to the East when they did as the team lightly rebuilt, but the grind of the West really encompasses the ethos of the club and its history. We've always been known as a physical team that fights for points and that means we belong in the West where each game matters that much more. I think the team has taken well to that "fight for everything" character under Coyle, though the results have not always been there. The team needs to prove to itself, the fans, and the league that it can compete and that means that ultimately they need to start picking up more than a point here and there. Or to succinctly answer the question, we're adjusting alright, but it could be better.
OaM: Who's the lesser known player that the Red Bulls should watch out for in this match?
DT: The team is largely the same as it has been in the past, but defender Raúl Rodríguez is one of our offseason signings and has been huge at helping out in the back. He's currently displaced Kofi Sarkodie at RB to allow for Jermaine Taylor and David Horst to use their aerial prowess in centrally, but what makes Rodríguez so talented is his decision making. He's a terrific 1v1 defender and possessing a lot of vision moving up the field making him a capable defender and a threat up the field. Other than unknown defenders, Giles Barnes has really come alive as an attacker and playmaker while Oscar Boniek Garcia may have some of the best dribbling abilities in the league (no bias).
Predicted lineup: Tyler Deric (GK); DaMarcus Beasely (Def), Jermaine Taylor (Def), David Horst (Def), Raúl Rodríguez (Def); Brad Davis (Mid), Ricardo Clark (Mid), Luis Garrido (Mid), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Mid); Giles Barnes (CAM/FW), Will Bruin (FW).
Prediction: 2-1 Dynamo. We get it done at home before our internationals take their leave, but BWP is able to keep it close.
You can read our answers to their questions over at the Dynamo Theory site.