This is a really special Three Questions for me. Dustyn Richardson was the founder of a website called Total MLS; you may have heard of it. Dustyn gave me my first MLS writing gig back in 2014. I am grateful to call him a friend. Please enjoy our exchange!
Sounder at Heart: The Dynamo are off to a great start this season. What’s been the key to success for Houston this year?
Dynamo Theory: It’s without a doubt the defense. Last year, the Dynamo had actual traffic cones on their back line and conceded so many goals late in matches that cost them points. This year, the additions of Kiki Struna and Maynor Figueroa have solidified the glaring weakness the Dynamo had in 2018. Gone are the days of Leonardo and Phillipe Senderos. Juan David Cabezas has been hurt and last year this was a huge loss for Houston. But in 2019, the play of Matias Vera and Boniek Garcia in the midfield has helped cover for the loss of Cabezas defensively, and allowed the four attackers the chance to shine.
SAH: Houston is typically a bad road team. What do they need to do to get a result in Seattle?
DT: The Dynamo likely need a shutout if they’re going to walk out of Seattle with a result. Houston has yet to be shut out this season, so there’s a good chance they score at least once. Houston is very dangerous on the counter so I can see them sitting back and trying to absorb Seattle’s attacks. That could be a recipe for disaster, but at the same time, could prove to be the most optimal chance to get a result. Shutting out Seattle is obviously easier said than done with the players the Sounders have, but I can’t see the Dynamo winning or even drawing a game giving up multiple goals.
SAH: Houston’s attack doesn’t get the national recognition it deserves. Personally, I think it’s one of the most exciting in MLS. This isn’t so much a question as it is an opportunity for you to dap up your players. What makes them so good?
DT: Alberth Elis and Mauro Manotas are what makes the Dynamo go. They were both rumored to be on the move to Europe this offseason, and while that still may happen, the Dynamo go as they go. Elis is so good off the dribble and in space. He’s able to beat defenders with speed and there may be no one in MLS more dangerous in the open field. Manotas is blossoming into the complete package as a #9. He has been scoring goals the last few seasons but he is so much more in 2019. His link-up play has become exceptional and the runs he makes are sublime. Tomas Martinez has also hit a new gear this season and his play as a #10, setting up and scoring goals, has been huge. Memo Rodriguez, a Dynamo homegrown, is the “new kid on the block” in the Houston attack and he has fit in perfectly. He works well with both Elis and Manotas and his work off the ball is huge to complement those two players.
We will link to the reverse questions at Dynamo Theory when they are published.