We like to keep you on your toes sometimes at Sounder at Heart. Usually Dave Clark is the one who does the 3 Questions post, but I cannot pass up an opportunity to talk with my good friend Dustyn Richardson whenever the Seattle Sounders play the Houston Dynamo. Here’s what Dustyn had to say about the game tonight.
Sounder at Heart: It’s been a long 4 years since the Dynamo played Seattle in the Western Conference final. But, with a new ownership group and coach, coupled with some exciting talent, things seem to be turning around in H-Town. Are you feeling hopeful about this team?
Dynamo Theory: I think the best way to describe the feeling around the Dynamo right now is cautious optimism. With Ted Segal coming in as the new owner there are a lot of question marks and fans have a bit of a “prove it to us” kind of attitude. The club announced the signing of designated player Teenage Hadebe and the contract extension of co-captain Tim Parker on the day Segal took over so there are signs that this new era could be different than what Dynamo fans have grown used to. There is still a lot of work to be done for this club to to be competitive again and fighting to win MLS Cup but at least, in my opinion, there is now some optimism and hope that those things will happen under Segal.
SAH: Houston has the joint most draws in MLS this season, while losing the second-least amount of games. That’s an indication that they’re hard to beat but can’t quite figure out how to win. Can you tell me what Tab Ramos and Co. are doing well? Where do they need to improve?
DT: Tab’s teams play hard for 90 minutes. They may not have the most talented roster in Major League Soccer but Ramos always has eleven players out there pressing and putting in the dirty work until the final whistle. One thing that you may not realize about the Dynamo, they have scored in every game this season. They did get an own goal on the road at Portland but Houston has yet to be shut out in 2021. With Christian Ramirez off to Scotland and Tyler Pasher and Ariel Lassiter at Gold Cup, Maxi Urruti will be called on to continue his hot start to the season. Urruti is a Ramos kind of player, he tracks back and is very active on the defensive end, but he also has 6 goals this season and has scored in 3 consecutive road matches. While they have yet to be shut out, the Dynamo have only shut out their opposition once, May 12 against Sporting KC. The defense remains a work in progress and goalkeeper Marko Maric is very Jekyll and Hyde between the posts. He will make some jaw-dropping saves and then some comical errors in the span of one game. Houston has to get more consistency from their back line and goalkeeper if they want to stay in the playoff race until November.
SAH: In case you haven’t noticed, Seattle’s sputtered a bit with 4 draws and 2 wins in their last six. What are some areas of concern that the Sounders could exploit against the Dynamo?
DT: Like I said above, the Dynamo defense will in all likelihood concede goals. The likes of Raul Ruidiaz and old friend Will Bruin should strike fear in Dynamo fans. It also doesn’t help that the Dynamo have never won in Seattle, registering 8 losses and 2 draws including the playoffs. Sam Junqua will most likely start at center back alongside Tim Parker while Maynor Figueroa is on national team duty. Junqua is a natural left back that Ramos has converted to a center back. If the Sounders can get Brad Smith and Alex Roldan active on the wings and whipping in crosses, it could be a concern for the Dynamo and how Junqua and Parker deal with that threat. There aren’t many available central midfielders for Houston either so you could see a very defensive trio of Derrick Jones, Matias Vera, and Joe Corona, leaving a lot of space in the midfield for Joao Paulo and Seattle to operate.