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3 Houston Questions with SB Nation’s Dynamo Theory

NYC FC is facing a tough test at home in Hartford on Saturday as they take on a side desperate for a win.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Know your enemy! Each week we do a Q&A with our friends from around the SB Nation Soccer world to get some insight on their team from those who know them best.

The Boys in Blue are back in action Saturday and are getting healthier by the day as the MLS Cup Playoffs approach. New York will have a tough test in a neutral field on Saturday as the team faces off against a Houston team desperate for a win.

Dynamo have scuffled through the last few months of the season and now find themselves out of Playoff contention for the first time. Houston will give NYC FC everything they’ve got Saturday in what amounts to a “must win” for the team.

With us this week is Derek Stowers from Dynamo Theory to preview the match. Derek keys in on Houston’s form, what will make the team successful, and how they can find goals on Saturday.

Q. Dynamo are in a bad run of form right now, winning only once in their last seven games and collecting just six points over that span. The team has dropped out of Playoff contention for the first time all season, but still boasts a +7 goal differential and have two games in hand on 6th place RSL. What's been at the root of this slide and what must Houston do to turn things around on Saturday?

A. It’s tough to say exactly what the problem is. Prior to the four game winless streak that the Dynamo is currently on they were on a six game unbeaten streak which saw them fall from first in the West to 7th.

If I had to pinpoint a root cause for our winless slump, it is lineup consistency and tactics. Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera made some questionable changes in the Vancouver game which resulted in two key players being suspended due to yellow card accumulation against Dallas, and he made similar mistakes against Colorado.

The second part is tactics. One narrative for Houston this season has been which team shows up – our home form or road form. Our home form is a relentless counter attacking machine that allows defense to take a backseat to goal scoring. Possession isn’t as important as creating quick chances to score. Primarily on the road, the Dynamo seem to prefer playing more conservative with how they attack, resulting in increased possession, which our club really isn’t built for at the moment. Slowing down means slowing our offense down which is what we need to win games. To turn things around, Houston needs to play like they usually do at home.

Q. The final two Playoff spots in the West are hotly contested right now with four teams within one point of one another. Complete this fill in the blank: Dynamo will qualify for the postseason if __________ happens.

A. The Dynamo will qualify for the postseason if they win the matchup against Sporting Kansas City. The Dynamo have a home and away series against SKC which is the “six point swing” that could make a difference…or in this case it would be a “twelve point swing”. Overall, the Dynamo need to start scoring and playing like themselves again, but results against SKC would go a long way of putting them in a playoff position.

Q. NYC FC is playing at home (kind of) and aside from their match against Portland where they were without the likes of David Villa, the team has scored in every home match this season. Houston, meanwhile is struggling to find goals, goal-less over their last 180+ mins. What has the opposition done to stymie Houston's scoring and who needs to step up Saturday if Dynamo are going to take all three points?

A. I think the Dynamo themselves have hurt their chances of scoring more than the opponents have stopped them, but I will point out how well Colorado got numbers behind the ball to slow our offense down and how well San Jose used its fullbacks to frustrate our wingers. The Dynamo were a little too slow to start counter attacks so I think they did themselves a disservice, but if they can play with pace they can beat anybody in this league. If the offense is a little slow, they’ll have to put away the chances they do get and defend like no tomorrow.

Match Prediction?

New York City FC – 2, Houston Dynamo 2. The Dynamo winless streak continues, but they’ll settle for a point and a pair of goals.

Thanks again to Derek for answering our questions— be sure to check out the “reverse fixture” over at Dynamo Theory. Have your own take on the match? Let us hear it in the comments section!