It's a later match for the people of Houston (6 PM Pacific on KONG). That should be good for Seattle Sounders FC as the evening temperature should be below 90 degrees at the new downtown BBVA Compass Stadium. This is Seattle's first visit to the Houston Dynamo's new stadium. They do so with a contingent of support from Nacodoches, TX to witness their home town son play club soccer for his new team. It is also a full sell-out as the people of Houston are excited to see Clint Dempsey on tour.
Guiding us through Three Questions is the snarky Fuzion of Dynamo Theory. And yes, I send my questions first.
SaH: Is Boniek Garcia having a quietly awesome year?
DT: I actually feel like Boniek Garcia has not been quite the same this season as last. Opponents have found ways to limit his direct impact on scoring chances, yet he is still simply Boniek and thus he still finds a way. His energy and passion for the game really are the driving force behind this team right now.
SaH: Ricardo Clark left as a tough defensive mid. He's now something else. How is he used in the Orange?
DT: Rico as he is affectionately known has become a quasi-attacking midfielder, and not really all that great of one. He has his flair and his moments, but every Houston Dynamo fan will tell you Ricardo Clark is by far at his best as a defensive midfielder. The role of attacking mid has thus far been out of necessity more than positional aptitude. We all hope that changes when Alex Lopez is ready to take over.
SaH: What will Houston do when they can't have a giant former Sounder as a sub at forward?
DT: Calen Carr. You might get to see him on Saturday as a sub. If you do, I sure hope you get to see the corner flag leap up close and personal-like.
Note: I was asking this because Weaver and Ching are both frequent subs that are former Sounders.
Prediction - 2-0 Houston over Sounders.
Starting XI: Hall; Ashe - Taylor - Boswell - Sarkodie; Davis - Clark - Moffat - Garcia; Barnes - Bruin
Driver on for Davis or Garcia. Lopez (if visa processes quick enough) on for Moffat or Barnes. Creavalle on for Moffat or Clark whichever remains.
DT: What Sounders players not at forward should we most pay attention to on Saturday?
SaH: Due to injuries, national team call ups and suspension, who ever plays at left mid. That could be scoring threat Lamar Neagle or converting left back Marc Burch. If it is Burch that should result in a slightly more defensive posture, a slow to fire cross and left footed set-play service that can threaten. With Neagle you have a player who should be Home Grown, but isn't. He's prone to going one-on-one and shooting through heavy traffic. Lamar has five goals and 3 assists on the season.
DT: I'm actually glad Seattle landed Deuce, as really his primary other option was LA Galaxy. With that said, I don't really remember and I'm sure Seattle fans such as yourself can help me remember, but when was the last time the Sounders won a MLS Cup?
SaH: While it is true that the Sounders have not won an MLS Cup, that would ignore the 39 year history of an organization that has 10 major trophies including the only MLS team to win three straight US Open Cups. All of that without stealing a team from another city.
DT: Speaking of MLS Cup, the Sounders are currently sitting outside of the playoffs. It appears the biggest problem facing the team is away games and finding a way to win them. As a Sounders fan, how would you address this problem, and do you foresee this changing in Houston?
SaH: I think that 'problem' is only due to one blow-out by the LA Galaxy and struggles against RSL. Dropping just the single four-nil drubbing by LA results in a -2 Road Goal Differential. Dropping those three matches puts the club at 4-3-1 +1 away from CenturyLink. While Seattle will have to beat at least one of those teams on the road in the Playoffs there is little reason for the rest of the West to think that the Sounders are an easy club away from the Sound.
Predicted Lineup: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Traore, Ianni, Yedlin; Burch, Alonso, Carrasco, Rosales; Neagle, Dempsey