We preview tonight’s game against the San Jose Earthquakes with Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis. Tonight’s game kicks off at 9:30 p.m. CDT and will air on ROOT SPORTS Southwest (9:00 p.m. pregame show). Davis, a 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.
Matt Pedersen: The Dynamo beat Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, on Saturday night. What did you see from the Dynamo in the second half in their game management, protecting a two-goal halftime lead?
Glenn Davis: It was a complete 90 minutes, focused emotionally and physically, with strong decision-making, a spirited collective effort and no critical self-inflicted mistakes. This was a platform match that has to now be re-created on the road. No one took plays off, and the Dynamo worked selflessly for each other.
MP: What's your assessment of the central four, with Agus García and David Horst at center back and Alex Lima and Ricardo Clark as protection in midfield? How was their shape and cohesion on the night?
GD: Agus and Horst bring some intimidation and solidarity, and they performed well together after a bit of a slow Dynamo start; it was no-nonsense defending. Pride to not get beat and concede goals – this is what center backs love. They love to get shutouts, as it is a direct reflection of their performance in some ways. An entire team wants and desires this attitude. Alex was everywhere and Ricardo covered ground. They are the keys to tying the lines of the Dynamo together, and if they do the Dynamo can win the ever-important middle third of the field.
MP: Alex has been arguably the "surprise" of the Dynamo season so far, starting every game he was available for selection and producing several big performances. What have you seen from the Brazilian this year?
GD: Intensity, desire, and a want to do the little things that go unnoticed on a stat sheet. He is closing people down, pushing play in certain areas, protecting the back four and shutting down dangerous passing lanes. He is also, as practically every Brazilian is, good on the ball. He is leading by example and was a great signing last year.
MP: The Dynamo received goals from wingers Giles Barnes and Andrew Wenger against Sporting Kansas City. Describe the importance and quality of Houston’s wide play on Saturday.
GD: I thought Andrew Wenger and Giles Barnes were excellent, (working) up and down, two-way and helping to control this area of the field, not to mention get into the box often and score both the goals. They had good support from outside backs in DaMarcus Beasley, Abdoulie Mansally and Jalil Anibaba. These pairings out wide are vital! I am hoping that it carries on tonight as it can be instrumental against the Quakes.
MP: The Dynamo face San Jose tonight in the middle game of a three-games-in-eight-days stretch. Owen Coyle discussed the probability of rotating some of the squad to keep the lineup fresh. What considerations will he make with each player on who remains in the starting lineup tonight?
GD: Who is fresh, not just physically, but mentally? The staff will be on top of this. How are the players physically? The big question is: How much thought do you put in tonight to the third game in eight days at home against Real Salt Lake (on Saturday)? Do you go for it tonight and worry about Saturday when you get back home? I am sure the Dynamo are confident that they can get it done in San Jose, but back-to-back wins have been rare in recent years. Time to change that.
MP: San Jose has been very good at protecting leads, with a record of 113-4-23 when leading at the half since 2000. Describe the importance of a halftime lead in soccer and how the Earthquakes have been so effective at seeing out games?
GD: That is a stupendous, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious stat! That is a learned and conditioned attitude and mentality that all engage in. It has to be a mantra that all accept and are willing to protect. A developed collective mentality is what all the great teams have.
MP: Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski has produced the best scoring stretch in league history, with 109 goals since 2010. What was he like as a player in Houston in terms of demeanor and work ethic? Are you surprised by his success in San Jose?
GD: He was always a hard worker, but the trade to San Jose was the best thing that ever happened to him. It really is an unreal story, but I remember the word on him was that he was always a great finisher in training. That obviously found its way in to real game situations. He is legendary in MLS with his goal scoring and no one has scored as many goals in such a short amount of time. He has seven of the 12 goals San Jose has scored this year. He has an innate sense of being where the ball will ultimately come in the penalty box. His appetite to scores goals is voracious. I am happy for his success as he was a truly likable man.
MP: The Earthquakes are 9-3-4 when midfielder Anibal Godoy has started since his arrival last summer. What challenge will the Dynamo face in the center of the field tonight, with the big Panama national team midfielder trying to wreak havoc?
GD: Godoy has experience in Hungary and is only 26 year old. He covers ground, is physical and the Dynamo must match that tonight in the middle of the field, like they did against Sporting Kansas City. He is a hitter and tackler and has played that role with Panama, so he is experienced. With (Fatai) Alashe questionable (with a hamstring injury), his play will be magnified. He embodies the physical play of Panama, whom he has appeared for 60 plus times.