Houston Dynamo at New England Revolution
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 1:00 p.m. CT
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Two of MLS’ most loaded attacks tangle in the Boston suburbs this weekend as league-leading scorer Erick “Cubo” Torres leads the revitalized Houston Dynamo into a cross-conference clash with Lee Nguyen and the New England Revolution.
With Cubo already on six goals after four games – headlined by the hat trick vs. New York that earned him Alcatel Player of the Week honors – Houston are scoring at a brisk clip of 2.75 goals per game, tied with Atlanta United for best in the league. Compare that to last season, when their GPG average was second-worst in MLS.
The net hasn’t been quite as easy to find for the Revs thus far. But the multi-pronged frontline orchestrated by Nguyen and spearheaded by Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo is creating chances with regularity, as evidenced by a team expected-goals figure of 6.62 to date, via Opta Sports.
New England Revolution
The Revolution are fresh off an encouraging 1-1 road draw at Portland’s Providence Park, where they held off the Timbers’ vaunted array of offensive weapons – undone only by an all-world strike by Diego Valeri – and snatched a late equalizer via Nguyen.
Coach Jay Heaps tweaked his front line at the start of the season in search of maximum productivity, switching Agudelo’s and Nguyen’s spots in their preferred 4-4-2 diamond midfield system. But a return to the Agudelo-Kamara strike pairing seems to have improved the Revs’ fluidity, though Kamara is still in search of the form that made him a league MVP finalist while with Columbus.
Further back, New England were encouraged by the performance of rookie defender Josh Smith in his MLS debut last week. Alongside him, showcase offseason signing Antonio Delamea earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for his outing in Portland.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: None
Projected starting XI (4-4-2 diamond, right to left): Cody Cropper – Andrew Farrell, Antonio Delamea, Benjamin Angoua, Chris Tierney – Scott Caldwell, Xavier Kouassi, Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez – Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara
Notes: New England have only lost twice in 11 regular-season home matches against Houston (4-2-5), and have only lost once in their last six MLS matches against the Dynamo (3-1-2) … Nguyen has scored in his last three regular-season appearances after previously going six league games without scoring … The Revs thrashed Minnesota 5-2 in their last home match.
After several seasons of struggle, the Orange have been a revelation in the early going this year, knocking off quality sides like Columbus Crew SC and the reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders. Now they’re after their first positive result of the campaign.
Alex has been a metronome in central midfield, veteran defender A.J. DeLaGarza has steadied the backline since his offseason trade from the LA Galaxy and the dynamic attacking trident up front has been a “three-headed monster,” devouring foes with lightning-quick transitions.
Leading the way is Torres, who has been reborn under first-year Dynamo boss Wilmer Cabrera. The Mexican No. 9 has been ably assisted by a quiver of fellow young Latin American talents like Alberth Elis, Mauro Manotas and Romell Quioto (who is likely to miss this one due to a shoulder injury).
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D George Malki (torn ACL), D Agus (left hamstring), D Leonardo (right hamstring); DOUBTFUL: F Romell Quioto (shoulder injury); QUESTIONABLE: M Juan David Cabezas (concussion)
Projected starting XI (4-3-3): Tyler Deric – A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Jalil Anibaba, DaMarcus Beasley – Ricardo Clark, Eric Alexander, Alex – Alberth Elis, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres, Mauro Manotas
Notes: Quioto was estimated to miss 2-4 weeks when his injury was announced last month; the date of his return to match fitness remains unclear … Andrew Wenger provides athleticism and intelligence off the bench should Cabrera seek a different look on either wing … The Dynamo lost their only other road match to date this year, a wild 4-2 shootout in Portland on a similar artificial surface to the one at Gillette.
- Overall: (22 meetings): Dynamo 5 wins, 25 goals... Revolution 10 wins, 31 goals... Ties 7
- At New England: New England 4 wins (17 goals) … Dynamo 2 wins (12 goals) … 5 ties
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Gianni Facchini, Craig Lowry
Fourth Official: Jose Carlos Rivero