Houston Dynamo went through a spell of bad form for a bit there, didn't they? Why was that, and have those problems been addressed?
The Dynamo tend to hit low marks each year and then bounce back. This year it was mid-May through June. Part of that had to do with injuries and call-ups which led to inconsistent lineups. Furthermore, striking partners Will Bruin and Giles Barnes seemed to inexplicably lose their scoring touch which was earlier in the season quite good. Since then we've seen a return of Oscar Boniek Garcia, whom I think marks the real bounce back. The midfield stepped up to score goals and lately Cam Weaver has been the dominating forward with 2 goals in 2 games (Will Bruin also found the net last match against Columbus).
We only see each other once a year. Briefly, how would you describe what's happened since we last met?
A lot has changed since our game since. We've seen our 4-3-3 that brought us out of last year's slump headed by Kandji, Bruin, and Carr up top dissolve due to Carr's injury in the MLS Cup and Kandji's decision to sign abroad. In addition to those two we saw Luiz Camargo, Colin Clark, and Andre Hainault all exited the Dynamo camp. The new additions have more than made up for these losses in many ways. Andrew Driver and Giles Barnes have been stellar for us. We also made the Omar Cummings signing which has yet to pay dividends due to frequent injury set backs. This will be a team that has a lot of the same pieces as the last time we met, but will be different with players like Giles Barnes on the field.
What's the mood like ahead of this match? Is there a sense that RSL will play a weakened side, thus rendering things a bit easier? Or will it be a tough one for you?
I think what this match means to a lot of fans is a chance for the Dynamo to test whether or not their recent successes -unbeaten in our last 4 with only 1 draw - are a sign of things getting into gear for the playoffs or if there are still some things to be moved around or formations to try. Other than that we know RSL is a little bit beaten up and tired after a midweek US Open Cup match so our players need to try to use that to our advantage. However, the Dynamo have never found much success at Rio Tinto Stadium so they can't bank on tired legs helping them too much. It should be a tough match to play.
Lineup and Prediction
Dynamo Theory: The forwards are beginning to find the net again which is very good. Oscar Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis have both help to rejuvenate a Dynamo side that looked lost. The defense has been more mistake prone than usual, but the midfield has been so good lately I think they'll really help out the offense.
Prediction: Dynamo 2, Real Salt Lake 1