The Texas Derby is upon us! It's like a tornado wrapped, humidity-soaked Christmas in April!
This week, Sean at Dynamo Theory was kind enough to spare some time to chat about the weekend's grudge match. This is the only game in MLS with artillery at stake. Let's dive straight in:
1) Will Bruin is off to a strong start with 3 goals in 3 games. What has changed since last season to foster his success? Is it Will or is it the people around him?
Will Bruin showed up big in the first two matches, but in Vancouver away from the friendly confines of BBVA Compass Stadium, he laid a big fat goose egg. Prior to Vancouver, the difference for him was his confidence. When he'd get the ball, he'd take the shot. He didn't hesitate or make the decision to try to pass it off, he just simply took what the defense gave him. In Vancouver, he didn't assert himself and he looked lost constantly.
2) Why is it so difficult for visiting teams to win at BBVA Compass Stadium? There's been a lot written about the narrowness of the field, but there must be more to it.
The narrowness of the field is the common answer, like he stated. I think it also has something to do with the home fan support. The fan support is directly behind the goal where the Dynamo defend for the second half, and there is a good contingency behind goal on the other end of the stadium, too. Couple the fan support with the heat and narrowness and a picture emerges of an all-around tough place to play for visitors.
But really, in MLS, it is common for road teams to falter by a larger margin than home teams. If I was a betting man, I'd say the stat line probably reads pretty close to 75/25 in favor of the home side. That's not a small margin by any means.
3) Recently while listening to the Best Soccer Show podcast, I heard the hosts talking up Kofi Sarkodie as a major contender for the the USMNT for the next World Cup cycle. I saw that he has a few caps for the U23s but hasn't featured regularly. Do you think he has what is takes to jump onto the full international stage? How important is he to the Dynamo's back line?
Sarkodie's biggest knock is his size. He isn't tall, but he is much like Yedlin. He's quick, recovers well, but unlike Yedlin he plays the position defensively quite well. He also has a knack for linking up in the offense along the right flank, and he's nailed a few spectacular goals and crosses from the right side.
Can he make it on the international stage? Time will tell more than anything. I think he could, but there's so many differences between one international team and the next. He could hang, though.
And he is pivotal to the success of the Houston Dynamo back line in keeping the ball out of the goal. He has had multiple games with multiple back to back goal line clearances and saves, either with his head or his body/feet. The kid is simply fantastic at getting in the way at the last possible moment to clear or deflect a ball near the goal.
4) Dom Kinnear is one of the longer tenured coaches in MLS nowadays. What has been the key to his consistency over the years even despite obstacles like when major team leaders are traded or retired?
I think there are a few keys to Dom's consistency and success. The first is his consistency with his formations. He rarely ventures from the 4-4-2 diamond, and when he does the formations tend to be just subtle variations of it (even the 4-3-3 he implemented last year for a few matches was really just a 4-4-2 diamond shifted slightly).
The second is his defenders. He keeps the same basic defensive concepts year in and year out, and doesn't shift much to counter opposition strategy. What you end up with is a system where he knows the exact type of defender he wants, and he goes and scouts for only that from defenders. Even Anthony Arena and AJ Cochran (2013 and 2014 MLS SuperDraft-ees) fit the mold.
Finally, Dom's continued success comes from his ability to get the most out of the guys at the exact time he needs it. Playoffs. You saw last season, but if you missed it, just ask a NYRB fan. Simply magical when the playoffs get close.
5) What's it going to take for the Houston Dynamo to make another appearance at MLS Cup at the end of this year? Who are the absolute vital cornerstones to keep the ship afloat?
Honestly, not much different from last season. The same strategies will work, the same formations will work. If the club can avoid major injuries to their major players (Brad Davis, Boniek Garcia, Tally Hall, the entire defensive line) they'll make it pretty deep in the playoffs, and most likely MLS Cup.
The one cornerstone that is the biggest surprise from the group above is David Horst. He is an absolute monster of a man, and opponents have already felt his fire. You don't want to piss him off, and you don't want to be the guy trying to take him one v one head on. It doesn't end well. If Horst stays healthy, this team won't give up many goals at all.
Thanks as always to Sean for writing and to you for reading. What is your scoreline prediction? Do you think Houston reclaims the cannon or does Dallas decimate in the lion's den?
Like many of you, I'll be traveling south on game day, but watch out for my answers to the Dynamo Theory's questions. I will post the link to their site when I have access.