HOU_101515_Bruin_VWFC
USA Today Sports Images

#VANvHOU preview with Glenn Davis

We preview the upcoming game with Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis. The former professional player can be seen on national soccer broadcasts on ESPN and FOX and hosts the Soccer Matters radio show. Look for more daily soccer content from Davis on his Soccer Matters Facebook page and Twitter. Saturday’s road match at Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be broadcast live on ROOT SPORTS Southwest, with pregame at 8:30 p.m. CT and kickoff set for 9 p.m.  

Matt Pedersen: The Dynamo scored three goals on the road at New York last Saturday, but couldn’t protect a late lead in a 4-3 defeat. Will Bruin scored twice and Boniek Garcia added two assists as the Dynamo scored three road goals for the first time since August 29, 2014, in a 3-1 win at Sporting Kansas City. What were your overall thoughts on the game?

Glenn Davis: First off, this was great entertainment. Goals, mistakes, bizarre moments and head scratching decision-making. There were lots of positives, including Boniek Garcia stepping in wonderfully for Cristian Maidana as a playmaker. Boniek looks refreshed and vibrant in his three appearances and brings experience to the Dynamo, it is so exciting to see him healthy and rested. Will Bruin did what he was supposed to do, punish two mistakes from New York. He took his goals with calm and confidence. Manager Owen Coyle is a former high scoring striker and I think he is imparting his wisdom on the position to a more mature, confident Will Bruin. Lets not forget that Bruin had to prove himself to Coyle and his staff last year and he was rewarded with a new contract after the season. Three goals should be enough to win on the road, but the Dynamo’s efforts in managing out the game certainly have to be questioned. I am sure they are going to learn from this match. The Dynamo did get behind the ball but dropped off way to deep at times. The goals were preventable if you look at them closely. On the positive side, the build up and movement leading to the goal from Alex to put the Dynamo up 3-2 was a thing of beauty.

MP: The Dynamo have set an MLS record with 11 goals through three games. They’ve done it almost entirely through the run of play, through various means, including the counterattack, balls over the top and capitalizing on opposition mistakes. What do you think of the Dynamo attack thus far?

GD: I think everyone is enjoying the vibrant, attacking, goal-scoring Dynamo and the attitude they have in possession. It is so refreshing and exciting to see goals produced in a variety of ways in the attack and it leads to more interest and enthusiasm. They are more unpredictable, a threat on the counter attack when all pieces are in place, and now have to be looked at far differently by opponents. Realistically, they are not going to keep scoring goals at this rate and will have to start pulling a few Leicester City moments by finding ways to win games 1-0. Still, we are going to see goals this year!

MP: Will Bruin has three goals this season on three total shots on goal. He’s also added two assists, which is also a share for the league lead. What have you seen from Bruin early in this season?

GD: He is more mature and expanding his game in that he is punishing opponents’ mistakes, along with improved hold up play. One moment sticks out in that game against New York, where Bruin checked into midfield taking a center back with him and then was able to switch the play out wide with the Dynamo attack thrusting forward. It is exciting to see players blossom, add and stretch their individual games. This is what we live for.

MP: Vancouver had its best season in MLS last year, finishing second in the Western Conference. Head coach Carl Robinson’s core is intact from last season, with a few additions including Japanese forward Masato Kudo, joining an attacking core of Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh, Cristian Techera and Octavio Rivero. What is your scouting report on the young Whitecaps?

GD: Flexible tactically, lots of individual talent and totally connected to their young manager Robinson. Blas Perez brings a new dimension up front as a target striker and allows them to play a 4-4-2 as well. At 35 year old, he was fired up and fit against Seattle.

MP: Carl Robinson has discussed Vancouver’s inexplicable tendency to gain better results away from home than at BC Place, attributing some of it to teams sitting back with a defensive mentality when they visit Vancouver and playing more attacking, open soccer when at home, which helps Vancouver’s counterattacking setup. What do you think of his assessment, and Vancouver’s unusual home/road results over the last year?

GD: That's fair. Vancouver was a break out team with pace through a number of players including Darren Mattocks who was moved earlier this year. That is why the Perez acquisition as a target type will help them deal with deeper defending teams that try to nullify their counter attacking and break-out pace. That being said, Perez is away with Panama for World Cup qualifying and both teams will be missing players, so it is a bit of an unknown this weekend. One thing is for sure, it is a time of opportunity for players on both squads to make a point to their managers.

MP: Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle has compared Vancouver to FC Dallas, with both teams enjoying pace in the wide areas, including Manneh and Techera for the ‘Caps. With the Dynamo beating Dallas 5-0 at home two weeks ago, should the Dynamo try and replicate anything from that win to achieve success on Saturday night?

GD: Yes, score goals and come with a real energy, but this is completely different with so many players missing due to injury and call-ups. It would be a real bonus if the Dynamo can get some minutes out of Maidana as he has such an influence on controlling and managing games with his skill set and decision making. I think the Dynamo will blend moments of pressing play and comfortable defending shape, but for sure they will avoid defending too deep, which is the lesson they learned against the Red Bulls. I am excited to see how this works on the road on artificial surface, which can be challenging.

MP: Legendary Dutch midfielder and manager Johan Cruyff passed away on Thursday. He made a huge impact on the sport of soccer around the world. What are your thoughts on his life in soccer?

GD: Few athletes can define and change their sport. Cruyff did that and I felt very sad upon hearing "The Flying Dutchman" had passed. Plus, after his playing career he was just as successful as a manager, in player development and producing a vision for clubs and football. His influence and lore at Ajax, Barcelona and on Dutch and world football reaches to the stars. He influenced me and many of my friends growing up and others around the world. Imagine that, kids in New Jersey wanting to be just like Cruyff? In fact, today a number of my friends growing up called and we talked about what Cruyff had meant to us. Three European Cups as a player with Ajax and one as a manager. His influence on Barcelona and the sport lives on. He was a genius on and off the playing field and he looked at the sport so differently, so creatively, like art. A former teammate of mine Peter Carr played with him in Washington and I used to ask him all about Cruyff and the stories were amazing. He is in the top five in the history of the game, hands down, in the vein of (Alfredo) Di Stefano, Maradona and Pele!