It’s been tough to figure the Houston Dynamo out. June was a tough month for the side from Texas: it went winless in five of six matches (the only win came over second-division Austin Bold FC in the U.S. Open Cup fourth round, a match were Houston was outshot 17-9) before a 4-0 victory over New York Red Bulls on July 3. It promptly lost back-to-back matches against FC Cincinnati and LAFC, so needless to say, it needs to get some wins to keep itself in the playoff chase.
I had a chance to chat with Derek Stowers from Dynamo Theory about the Dynamo and their outlook as the season stands right now. I also asked him for this thoughts on the Leagues Cup, where they’ll host - coincidentally - América, Atlanta’s opponent next month in the Campeones Cup, a week from Thursday.
It looked like the Dynamo were trying to right the ship after a 4-0 win over the Red Bulls, but now it’s lost back-to-back matches to FC Cincinnati and LAFC. In your eyes, is this a team that can get itself back into the playoff race - and stay there?
Great question. Wilmer Cabrera’s response prior to the Cincinnati and LAFC games were that when we had our squad at full strength, we can compete with anybody. The context there is we’ve been without a lot of players due to call-ups, straightening out international paperwork, injuries, and we’ve had a packed schedule because of the US Open Cup and regular double game weeks. That being said, we’ve had a full strength squad for Cincinnati and LAFC which revealed a lot about Cabrera’s tendency to put out conservative tactics at odd times. We started that way against Cincy and got punished and LA sort of shell shocked the team after what was a very good first half performance.
Can they get back into the playoff picture? I believe so if we can learn to shy away from sitting too deep for extended amounts of time. The front office addressed a lot of our needs during the offseason, brought in some depth, and recently signed a versatile defender who could be a great piece along the back four. We have a great team that I believe is underachieving. They can absolutely make a jump up the table if they can stop trying to park the bus for 45 minutes.
Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas’ importance to the club is evident. Who else does Atlanta need to focus on throughout Wednesday’s match that perhaps has flown under the radar?
Romell Quioto is definitely an important piece and a player who, maybe doesn’t fly under the radar, but is a big threat. He has great vision, pace on the left wing, can dribble and likes to take players on, and has a good eye for goal for himself or to set up others. He will definitely spread the field on the opposite side of Elis which is another thing that makes this Houston offense dangerous.
As a Dynamo fan, what’s your opinion of the Leagues Cup? It’s been a bit of a polarizing subject in MLS circles and I wanted to get your thoughts on it.
My thoughts on it: change what time of day it is. Right now, I don’t like it because the Dynamo are competing in yet another tournament outside of the MLS regular season. Houston has already played in CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup this season, so a third tournament can be pretty taxing while you’re still competing week to week for a shot at the MLS Cup. But on the other hand, this kind of tournament isn’t something new. We’ve had the North America SuperLiga briefly and the Dynamo participated in that as well. So it’s a great opportunity, but it could have some hidden costs at the same time in the form of injuries and a lack of rest.