Eugene Rupinski, Brotherly Game) Houston has been pretty bad over the past couple of years. Why is this year different?
Derek Stowers, Dynamo Theory) After Dominic Kinnear left Houston to be closer to family and friends in San Jose the Houston Dynamo front office had to figure out a way to move beyond the hole left by Dom. They hired Owen Coyle and kept assistant Wade Barrett to help transition the former Bolton manager to MLS. The Coyle era, if you could call it that at all, was a half-assed attempt to rebuild. Coyle never built the team the way he wanted for his style and he had more than enough time to do it. Wade Barrett brought some stability to the club when he took over, but things weren’t different enough and the results just didn’t manifest the way the organization wanted.
This year is different because the front office has decided radical changes were necessary. The club helped new Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera put his mark on personnel as sweeping changes were made. Long time players such as Will Bruin were traded and many others simply didn’t have their options picked up. Cabrera made sure that the players he had would be able to play his style of soccer. That’s the biggest difference: the effort into supporting a coach and making the necessary changes within the team. Apart from that, the club plays a counter attacking style that is capable of scoring a lot of goals. The style tends to leave the defense a little short handed at times, but it has become more disciplined as players’ chemistry continues to grow.
tBG) The signing of Cubo Torres was seen as a bit of a coup for Houston, however between a bit of a lackluster season and loans back to Mexico he's fallen off of the radar a bit in MLS. Is he returning to the form the Dynamo had hoped to see when they acquired him?
DT) It was an interesting decision when the Dynamo got Cubo as we had two proven forwards in Will Bruin and Giles Barnes, and Cubo never seemed to fit in or gel in Coyle’s or Barrett’s system. At times during last season it looked like he didn’t care very much to be honest. He jogged around when he needed to be running, he wouldn’t attack defenders with the ball, and his passing and shot were never consistent. Cubo’s transformation this season is because of Wilmer Cabrera, the coach who helped Cubo during his breakout year with Chivas USA. Cabrera designed a system that made Cubo the focal point while putting a tremendous amount of faith and confidence in him. Cubo has returned that faith by scoring goals. More than just scoring goals, he’s actually exceeded (at least my) expectations about what he could be when he first arrived in Houston. He’s lost some weight this year, is pressuring defenses, passing better, looks stronger in the air, and is scoring goals in a variety of ways showing that he’s much more than just a poacher forward.
tBG) What is Houston's ceiling? Is this a team that can win it all in December?
DT) It’s very difficult to tell how far this team can go at this point in the season. In a league like MLS things can be going just fine for one stretch of the season and then turn into a dumpster fire the next. The Dynamo have been fortunate to have an extremely home-heavy beginning to the season. That has helped them grow in the new system and hopefully that translates to results on the road. Although they’ve been unbeaten at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo is still searching for its first points on the road. That means they have a long way to go if they hope to lift the MLS Cup. If we can start getting some results on the road, I’d be nervous if I was an opposing fan and the Dynamo were coming to town.
Injuries: OUT, Eric Alexander. PROBABLE, Alberth Elis
Predicted lineup: It’s a little difficult to say for midweek matches with precision, but I think Elis, a usual starter at right winger will not play or he will be on the bench. That would give him more time to heal and be fresh for Saturday’s game.
4-3-3: Joe Willis; DaMarcus Beasley, Leonardo, Adolfo Machado, A.J. DeLaGarza; Alex Lima, Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark; Romell Quioto, Erick “Cubo” Torres, Mauro Manotas