Continuing a feature at HoustonDynamo.com, we preview the upcoming game with Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis. Look for more daily soccer content from the former professional player on Davis' Soccer Matters Facebook page. Saturday’s match versus FC Dallas (TICKETS) will be broadcast live on ROOT SPORTS Southwest Alternate Channel.
Matt Pedersen: The Dynamo opened the season with a 3-3 draw against New England on Sunday, with three different midfielders scoring goals. Two newcomers – Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger – both scored in their debuts and Will Bruin provided two assists. Last year, it took the Dynamo six games to score their third goal of the season. Clearly, it was an impressive offensive showing. What were your takeaways from the Dynamo performance?
Glenn Davis: I think all around it was great entertainment at BBVA Compass Stadium. A pre-cursor of more attacking "CoyleBall" which [head coach] Owen Coyle has stated he wants to see, with a wide game and a playmaker in Chaco Maidana from Argentina. Three goals from the run of play on opening day I think illustrated the potential of a team that has dramatically improved it's team speed and ability to create big chances. How exciting is it going to be to watch Maidana carve out chances for his teammates in this 4-2-3-1 set-up? It's only one match but the fans could sense it. The team is still a work in progress and must accumulate points while balancing attacking and defending.
MP: Owen Coyle expressed a desire for more “pace and power” in the wide areas throughout the offseason and into preseason. How did Andrew Wenger and Giles Barnes address that request on Sunday? Did the new-look lineup alter the Dynamo style of play from last season?
GD: Yes of course it looked new, more dangerous with more penetrators and more on the ball options with Maidana as a playmaker. Yes, it is pace and power, but it is also tactical acumen that gets you behind opposing defenses. Now we expect the Dynamo to turn defenses and wreck opposing team shape. More options are alive now!
MP: The Dynamo have not beaten FC Dallas since June 2012, a run of five Texas Derby defeats in league play. How can the Dynamo turn the tide against their Texas rivals Saturday night? Any specific areas of particular importance?
GD: For me simply two starting points: Dealing with an opponent that has multiple weapons and overall team speed and mobility. First, you must manage the game through good ball possession, and second you must be superior in transition. Transition is that moment a ball is lost and the decisions that occur as a team and individuals over 2-3 seconds that can make a difference. FC Dallas realizes they must be good in this area as well with the Dynamo’s newfound counter attacking capability. Teams will now have to respect the Dynamo differently, I believe.
MP: Dynamic FC Dallas winger Fabian Castillo is questionable for the game with a groin strain. Do you think his absence would affect FC Dallas’ approach to the game? Who are the most likely candidates to play in his place if his injury keep him out?
GD: With or without Castillo, this is a dangerous team but no one is really sure he is playing and [on Friday] he told a Dynamo fan in downtown Houston that he would play. Time will tell of course but Castillo has been a one man Dynamo wrecking crew the last few years. Let's not forget he is ably supported with penetrators, creators like Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios, and a goal poacher in Maxi Urruti. If he does not go, look for Ryan Hollingshead or more likely Tesho Akindele, a Canadian International.
MP: Ecuadorian Carlos Gruezo is a newcomer for FC Dallas. What are your impressions of the defensive midfielder?
GD: Gruezo is an exceptional signing from Stuttgart in Germany and played in the 2014 World Cup for Ecuador. At only 20 years old, he makes FC Dallas more physical, and his ability to cover ground in midfield is complimented by a great composure on the ball. He is mature beyond his years and in some ways maybe makes FC Dallas even a better team than last year. The midfield battle will be a great one vs. FC Dallas.