The Houston Dynamo head to the Windy City looking for their fourth road result in five tries when they take on the Chicago Fire on Sunday afternoon (3:00 p.m. CT, UniMás and Twitter). It will also be an opportunity for the Dynamo to extend their unbeaten streak to three straight before a quick turnaround home to host New York City FC on May 25 (TICKETS).
The Dynamo have shown a good form away from BBVA Compass Stadium this season by taking the lead in their four away matches. The challenge in Chicago will be to see out the full three points and pick up the team’s first away win this season – a task head coach Wilmer Cabrera believes his players can fulfill with two simple simple solutions.
“More concentration and more decision on the part of all the players,” said Cabrera. “When you are concentrated you are not surprised and when you have a decision to finish the game, it makes things more difficult for the opponent. So, that's what we have lacked and we have to emphasize that the matches need a concentration and the highest concentration is the last ten minutes of each game.”
The most recent heartbreak came in last week’s 2-2 draw in Vancouver where the team had the win in their grasp until Kendall Waston headed in a 94th minute equalizer. Both of the goals by Whitecaps FC came from set pieces, a point of emphasis that Cabrera alluded to following the tie.
The match against Chicago will pit two former Fire players against their former team. DaMarcus Beasley helped the Fire to two U.S. Open Cup titles and an MLS Supporters’ Shield at the beginning of his career, while Arturo Álvarez played under current Fire head coach Veljko Paunović for two seasons before coming home to the Dynamo.
“The idea of the Chicago coaching staff is to maintain possession,” said Álvarez. “I think they have the adequate players for that style of play, they like to play out of the back so we have to try and limit that, apply good pressure and take advantage of the opportunities that are afforded to us.”
Beasley, a four-time FIFA World Cup veteran, has started seven matches for the Dynamo but was omitted from the match against Vancouver as a precaution to pain in his knee. Álvarez, who joined the Dynamo in the offseason, has played 107 minutes this season in seven appearances off the bench.
Chicago will prove a worthy adversary for the defense with 2017 MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolić leading the attack and two great midfielders in 2014 FIFA World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger and 13-year MLS veteran Dax McCarty. The Dynamo will feel confident in their own right with the club's top scorer Mauro Manotas matching Nikolić’s five goals on the year, while Alberth Elis leads the league in shots on goal (20) and the team in assists (4).
It should be an entertaining match between a pair of teams with resurgent 2017 seasons resulting in playoff appearances, with talent and something to prove on both sides after up-and-down starts to this season.
“It’s a lot of difficulties and a lot of challenges but that’s what we love about this game,” said Cabrera. “We have prepared well and we are ready to travel and face a tough match but we have worked well and we have tried to improve and fix the things in which we are making mistakes and reinforce what we are doing well to continue doing it.”