The Houston Dynamo face off against New York City FC in a nationally-televised encounter on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. CT | UniMás, Facebook Live). Moved to Pratt & Whitney Stadium after a scheduling conflict with Yankee Stadium, this match carries great historical significance as it will be the first time an MLS match is played in the state of Connecticut.
The change of field, one that home team NYCFC is not accustomed to, may come at a great time for a Dynamo team looking for their second road win of the season. The Men in Orange know a result could be the remedy to their recent run of form.
“I think with the two results that we’ve had is a wake-up call for everybody,” said goalkeeper Tyler Deric. “We were sitting nicely during the season, and it is crunch time; we are not where we want to be. It’s really important that as a team we realize what is going on and that we make the changes that are necessary.”
Back-to-back losses have pushed the Dynamo below the playoff line for the first time this season. The team still controls their own destiny with games in hand over four teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings.
Shutout in two consecutive matches for the first time this season, the Dynamo are hoping to deliver a clean sheet of their own this time around. Juan David Cabezas, a newcomer in 2017 who has developed a leadership role on defense, spoke with the local media this week and preached accountability as the team looks to push for the playoffs.
“We need to fix some of the situations that we have encountered,” said Cabezas. “I think we need to be less predictable up front and we need to keep a clean sheet in the back. That’s when we are going to be able to start scoring again and for us in the back, we can keep their offensive guys quiet knowing that we won’t get beat. Those are the tiny details we need to fix and that will help us be able to close out the games.”
Delivering a stout defensive effort will be imperative against the 2016 MLS MVP and current league leader in goals with 19 to his name, David Villa. The all-time goals leader for the Spanish national team also leads his team in assists in 2017 with nine – but he is far from NYCFC’s only threat. Jack Harrison, with nine goals, and Maxi Moralez, with seven assists, are right behind Villa in production.
High stakes are on the line for both teams but the Dynamo know a result in East Hartford would be a lift emotionally and in the standings as they return home for the following two matches. Every match has a bit of playoff flavor to it.
“This is a crucial moment where there are few games and all the teams are getting ready for the playoffs,” said Cabezas. “We are sure and have faith that we have potential, we have a good group and these are the tough times every team goes through. The most important thing is to move forward and not stay still.”