We preview tonight’s game versus the Philadelphia Union with Dynamo broadcaster Glenn Davis. Tickets are still available here. Tonight’s match will air live on UniMás Houston (channel 67), with kickoff set for 8:00 p.m. 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: What were your takeaways from the last two Dynamo games, first a 3-2 defeat at the Portland Timbers on Sunday and a 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 on Wednesday?
Glenn Davis: Two differing games, but the one constant is the engagement of the players. They are playing for the manager Wade Barrett and I also think that they know they are playing for jobs. In Portland, we saw the Dynamo start brightly, scoring twice, but again fail to manage the game out or provide that third "killer instinct" type goal which this year has presented itself at times but has not been taken. With the score 2-1 late in the second half, the Dynamo were in poll position to win in Portland.
The win over Sporting KC on Wednesday was a very professional outing in the Open Cup, giving Wade Barrett his first managerial win. The Dynamo were the better team, organized, produced timely goals and played and moved together as 11.
MP: Forward Mauro Manotas has scored three times in two U.S. Open Cup games in the last month, including two against Sporting Kansas City. What progression have you seen in the young Colombian this year?
GD: Manotas is a joy to watch due to his youth but mature attitude. He is a differing striker with his movement and ability to get turned and just might be that lightning in a bottle player that the Dynamo fan base and club can wrap their arms around. He is young and Houston is full of Colombian fans as evidenced by Colombia playing here in the Copa América Centenario. He has pushed for a starting role and is a great example of a player doing everything he can to state his case. He is a breath of fresh air.
MP: Philadelphia has gone from second-to-last a year ago to the top of the Eastern Conference in 2016. How have the Union turned it around this year?
GD: A young manager (Jim Curtin), with youthful talent given opportunity mixed in with veterans. I don't think they expected to be in first place and the highest scoring team in the league at this point, but they are a great story with an American manager in Jim Curtin who played locally at Villanova before going on to MLS.
MP: Tranquillo Barnetta is a playmaker for Philadelphia and has 75 caps for the Switzerland national team. What does he bring to the Union?
GD: What a great opportunity it is for Houston area fans to see a player that played in two European Championships for Switzerland and scored in a World Cup. He admitted [on my radio show] it took time to adjust to MLS last year. He is skilled, is an idea man and must be looked after by the Dynamo. He makes things happen.
MP: What have you seen from Philadelphia’s young defensive group, with a pair of rookies – Josh Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry – and 24 year-old Richie Marquez in the back line along with goalkeeper Andre Blake, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft?
GD: They have grown and learned on the job and show tremendous promise for the future. That being said, the Dynamo need to put them under pressure. Rookies getting real playing time in MLS does not occur that often so these guys are accelerating the development process and doing it well.
MP: What are your thoughts on the unexpected tournament runs for Iceland and Wales at the European Championships?
GD: What is not to like about Wales and Iceland reminding us all that collective spirit, team unity and respect for a plan and manager can take you far? The nationalistic pride is amazing to watch and the sum of all parts-type team is on display. Smaller nations now have invested, have players gaining professional experience in leagues throughout the world and are ambitious. Can't wait for the German vs. Italy match today as a precursor to the Dynamo and Union tonight! Happy Independence Day weekend!