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Enemy Talk: Discussing the Houston Dynamo with Dynamo Theory

We’re being friendly now with those in Houston.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It is match day again around here as FC Dallas is getting set to host their rivals the Houston Dynamo.

Just like we try to before each match, we welcome in Derek Stowers of the Dynamo Theory to help preview tonight’s game with a series of three questions.

BDS: Houston's attack has been a big surprise to start the season as Erick Torres finally looks like the player that everyone remember him to be during his Chivas USA days. What has been the biggest turnaround with him and the rest of the attack this season?

DT: It’s new Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s style of play that lends itself to lots of opportunities on offense. Cabrera, who coached Cubo Torres at Chivas USA, has put a tremendous amount of faith and confidence in Cubo by making him the focal point of how this team runs. Cubo has rewarded Cabrera’s faith by coming into this year having lost weight and improving other areas of his game. He’s become a stronger hold up player, a better passer, and is scoring in a variety of ways showing he’s more than just a poacher type of forward.

Part of what has made Cubo so effective is the players next to him up top. Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto provide tons of pace, they like to go at opponents with the ball, and both are capable of finishing. That means giving more attention to any one of these players creates room for someone else to thrive.

It’s these players put into a counter attacking system which has made Houston one of the top offensive teams in the league. This team is built to take a successful defensive stand on our end of the field and within seconds have a chance on goal on the other end of the field. There are drawbacks to this style (more on that in the next question), but when utilized correctly we can outrun teams and get plenty of opportunities to outscore our opponents.

BDS: On the flip side, Houston has struggled in the back this season giving up 20 goals. Between that and the winless streak away from BBVA Compass Stadium, why has the Dynamo struggled so much for consistency in the back in 2017?

DT: Using the system that Cabrera likes to use, we’re bound to give up goals, but the idea is simply to outscore teams. With our forwards committing less to defensive responsibilities since they’re needed higher up the field to spring the counter, our defense can easily be overwhelmed. Generally it’s been pretty good and the results go our way especially at home. Away from BBVA is a different story altogether.

When we’re on the road I’ve noticed a few tendencies the Dynamo have and they’ve been costly. Generally this team sits back on the road either after they get the lead or right from the starting whistle. Since we keep our forwards higher up, by sitting back we create huge gaps in the midfield for other teams to possess and build up opportunities to score. We also tried playing even more conservatively by resting Elis and Quioto and putting in DaMarcus Beasley (a left back) and Andrew Wenger (a defensive minded forward) on the wings in order to try and build up play. The result was isolating our center forward. Essentially, the team needs to try to play like it does at home. By becoming a threat on the counter attack we can stretch opponents out and make them think twice before pushing into the attack when they have the ball.

BDS: What are some keys for the Dynamo to get out of Frisco with some points and the early advantage in the Texas Derby?

DT: They absolutely cannot sit back and hope to get lucky with a counter attack. They need to create turnovers, pressure defenders with the ball, and actually possess the ball for stretches if we get a lead rather than invite FCD to have a chance at equalizing. I think playing like they do at home rather than a conservative variation of themselves will be key.

Lineup prediction: 4-3-3: Joe Willis; DaMarcus Beasley, Leonardo, Adolfo Machado, A. J. DeLaGarza; Alex Lima, Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark; Romell Quioto, Cubo Torres, Alberth Elis