Continuing a series at HoustonDynamo.com, we preview the upcoming game with Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis (Twitter: @GlennDavisSoc). The former professional player calls Dynamo game on ROOT SPORTS and hosts two radio shows – Dynamo All-Access (7-9 p.m. on Wednesday’s on KGOW 1560 AM) and Soccer Matters (Tuesday’s 7-9 p.m. on KFNC 97.5 FM) and also calls games for Fox Sports, ESPN, the Longhorn Network and more. Click here for podcasts of interviews from both shows and visit Davis'Soccer Matters Facebook page for daily soccer content. Saturday's match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ROOT SPORTS Southwest alternate channel.
Matt Pedersen: Owen Coyle went for it against Vancouver two weeks ago, using a 4-4-2 formation with Erick Torres starting for the first time, partnering Will Bruin. Giles Barnes started on the left for the first time this year and Brad Davis played on the right, with Ricardo Clark back in the lineup for the first time in a month, in the middle with Alex Lima. What did you think of the lineup and what were your impressions of how the group played together?
Glenn Davis: I felt a solid performance, certainly the Dynamo were the better team at the end of the night. Cubo Torres played a part in the Ricardo Clark goal, helping the ball on at the near post, but for the most part I thought his touch was off a bit. Playing together with Will Bruin and learning each other's tendencies can only help this relationship blossom. It sure would be nice to get a "Cubo effect" and "spike" right about now. Ricardo Clark reminded us the Dynamo are just a different team with him in midfield. Who ultimately really wants to be his partner in the middle of midfield? Alex Lima has proven to be a versatile addition to the Dynamo. Solid win, if not spectacular!
MP: The Dynamo are unbeaten in their last eight at home (7-0-1), outscoring opponents 18-5 since losing to San Jose on May 5. Have you seen anything different from the Dynamo at home as of late, perhaps a different mentality?
GD: I believe the Dynamo have set the bar high at home to be difficult to beat, use the conditions to their favor and have a bit of a swagger when playing at BBVA in front of the home fans. The record over the last eight speaks for itself, they are expected to win at home and defend the "home turf".
MP: Real Salt Lake comes to town a desperate team, looking to keep their seven-year postseason streak alive. They are a proud group with Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Nick Rimando all with the club since 2007. What do you expect to see from Real Salt Lake as they try and snap an eight-game road losing streak in league play?
GD: Urgency, desperation, desire, never say die attitude. The key is to see if their veterans lead the way in that department, with all the changes that have occurred – Jason Kreis going to NYCFC, Garth Lagerway moving on to Seattle. Kreis and Lagerway were the "architects" of the RSL way and "purpose of play".
MP: The combination of Javier Morales and Joao Plata has been effective against the Dynamo over the last two seasons. The pair each had a goal and assist in RSL’s 2-0 win against the Dynamo on July 18 and Morales recorded a hat trick in a 5-2 win in Houston last May. What challenge will the Morales-Plata tandem present on Saturday night?
GD: Morales was a one-man wrecking machine last year and at an older age reminds us that he can still make plays that wins games. The Dynamo clearly will, using an American football term, "game plan for him.” What does that mean? Deny him the ball, limit his time and space, not allow him to get his head up, because if given time and space and opportunity to take free kicks he can be lethal. Taking the edge off him will be key. Morales and Joao Plata love to play off each other. Plata creates space and moves opposing defenses around positionally with his movement. Concentration and awareness around this duo is a must.
MP: Ricardo Clark came back after a four-game absence and helped snap a three-game winless run, scoring the opening goal in the win over Vancouver. Clark, at age 32, has a career-high six goals this season (seven in all competitions) and is adding an offensive dimension to his game at unlikely age. What has impressed you about Clark’s evolution in the midfield the last two seasons?
GD: I have always been impressed with Ricardo Clark, but now he has added timely and important goals to his overall game. He has a knack for getting in good positions and seems more liberal getting into the box. His role I believe changes dependent upon whom manager Owen Coyle plays next to him. His work ethic and professionalism is so exemplary that I believe young players in the club learn from watching his daily habits. He is a remarkable athlete that covers ground. The Dynamo are clearly more confident and secure with Rico in midfield!
MP: Finally, a bonus question: You were in the house for Argentina vs. Bolivia at BBVA Compass Stadium last Friday. What will you take away from the experience?
GD: Argentina v. Bolivia was a magical football night for our city! The fans were unique in many cases in that many might never have been to BBVA before, reminding us of the diversity and varying groups that love the sport of soccer! The ceiling is so high in our city! A global star was in our midst in Lionel Messi, but let’s not forget the entire Argentina squad! Aguero's chip was exquisite, Messi played with intensity to reward the fans, I believe, and Argentina seemed all business and highly professional. Fans will be talking about the day "Messi" and Argentina came to Houston 10, 15, 20 years from now! The night will be indelibly etched in the minds of many for years to come! Who knows, maybe we see them again during the Copa Centenario? By all accounts, Houston loves Messi!!!