The Houston Dynamo face one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium as they host the New York Red Bulls (7:30 p.m. CT; TICKETS). New York is tied for the conference lead with seven points from their first four games.
The Red Bulls are led by English striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, who signed a new contract to make him a designated player earlier this week. Wright-Phillips has found his niche in MLS: amazingly he has scored 68 goals in just 3 seasons from 2014-2016. Some strikers don't get those numbers over 10 seasons. It is remarkable.
The qualities he possesses as a striker are numerous and he can hurt you in a variety of ways. He has the pace to get behind defenses between defenders, he can come back to the ball and be a part of the build-up which puts defenders in two minds. He has the innate ability to know where the ball will ultimately be off crosses and can make space to create his own shot.
He's helped in the attack with U.S. international midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who amassed 20 assists in 2016. Without Kljestan last weekend against RSL, the team really did not find rhythm and focal point to play through as they settled for a scoreless draw at home. He dictates the rhythm for the Red Bulls that is for sure and few American players are given the confidence to have this role in MLS teams. With him you get great decision-making on the ball and leadership. Jesse Marsch, the Red Bulls manager, has entrusted him as their playmaker.
Saturday should be a fast-paced, entertaining match as both teams like to press and pressure their opponents. Expect goals, chances, counter attacks and two teams trying to prove that their pressing system is better than the others. Both managers will say it is a work in progress at this point as it should be; I can't wait to see this five-star entertainment and the Dynamo depth having to prove itself out.
This game has the potential to have four or more goals if both teams do press as we expect. The Red Bulls take pride on saying they play the same way on the road as they do at home, and we've seen the quality of the Dynamo in the first month of the season.