Preview: Houston Dynamo vs. NY Red Bulls 8/29
Houston hits the road this week to take on the New York Red Bulls in the city that never sleeps. For the NYRB this is an important match in the race for the Community Shield. While this match will be more about the future for Houston, who’ve effectively been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Dynamo’s last match was a nil-nil draw with Dallas FC at home, and that result is too kind to Houston. The pacey, explosive play that has defined the Dynamo attack over the last two years was almost completely absent. Elis and Quioto struggled to dribble into the box and couldn’t get a good cross off. Manotas had his own problems with finishing. Though the Dynamo as a whole struggled the whole match, passes went awry or were simply to nobody. The most telling thing about this match is that the Dynamo’s standout player, Ronaldo Pena who netted his first MLS goal, only played 10 minutes.
The Red Bulls played this Sunday against an in-form DC United side, winning the derby match 1-0. The three points didn’t come easy though as DC was doing a fine job of breaking the classic NYRB press and high line. But, the Red Bull’s Kaku was the man of the match on Sunday shooting from just outside the penalty box in the 56th and placing the ball in the top corner. It’s also worth noting that New York maintained possession near DC United’s goal for a lot of the second half.
The Teams So Far
The New York Red Bulls are good, two points behind Atlanta United kind of good. Being especially good at home, winning 10 of 13 with a +21 goal differential and the way that the Red Bulls have been good has been rather consistent over the last couple of years. They will employ a high press against every team that they face, though there is variation from match to match. The variation tends to account for the other team’s strengths, for example, NYRB played a lot more long balls from the back against LAFC. Presumably to facilitate attacking quickly without committing too many men forward and leaving themselves open to LAFC’s brutal counters. Overall, the Red Bull system is similar to Klopp’s at Liverpool or Pep’s at Manchester City, with differences in talent levels of course.
The Dynamo, on the other hand, has struggled in the points category and as previously mentioned won’t be making the playoffs. There’s not even one thing to blame for the poor performance this season. Houston’s record on the road is abysmal, but they haven’t played much better at home recently. It’s hard to clearly say what the Dynamo’s strategy is, besides that explosive and exciting attacking play that I mentioned earlier. Cabrera typically plays a 4-2-3-1 or a flat 4-3-3, which aren’t worlds apart. But, in a 4-3-3 your central midfielder should truly be central, and not positioned in an attacking role. However, Tomas Martinez either doesn’t seem to be familiar with that positioning or he just chooses to play further towards Monatos. Either way, the results and play on the field are incredibly similar, especially on the attack when all a formation change gives you is more overlap on the wings, why change at all?
Things To Watch For
The Red Bulls played on Sunday and will play again on Saturday so I wouldn’t surprised if some of their starters are benched. That said, if Bradley Wright-Phillips or Kaku is starting on Wednesday, the game is worth watching just for one those guys. I’ll be interested to see how the NYRB adjust the high press to the Dynamo’s set up. For Houston, I’ll be interested who Wilmer Cabrera ends up putting in the starting 11. Personally, I’m hopeful that he’ll play the hot hand and give Pena his first MLS start, but I’m hesitant to think that Wilmer will do a lot of experimenting given that the U.S Open Cup Finals are just a short ways away.