RSL Soapbox) Houston has a few former RSL guys on its roster, namely Arturo Alvarez, Luis Gil, and Chris Seitz. What’s your assessment of each of them and will any of them grow into a bigger role with the Dynamo any time soon?
Dynamo Theory) I think from the perspective of who has contributed the most this season it would be Chris Seitz. That’s really looking at it by the minutes as Seitz was the starting keeper early in the year. Seitz looked good overall and had very few errors, but Joe Willis is also a solid keeper and Wilmer Cabrera is never stagnant with his starting XI selections. He switched things up last season between Tyler Deric and Joe Willis and he appears to have done it again. It’s unclear if Seitz will regain the starting role because with Cabrera you never know, but it is nice to have a solid goalkeeper option in the number 2 spot no matter who that keeper is.
Alvarez has seen time off the bench, usually every other game or so. It’s difficult to assess what he brings because he hasn’t contributed very much yet, but we’ve seen more from him in preseason. He’s a smart and versatile player, usually getting minutes as a wide forward/winger. He reads the game very well and isn’t afraid to crack a shot or find a teammate making a run in the box. I don’t see his role growing more than a bench contributor and the primary reason is the Dynamo are pretty deep with forwards and as soon as A.J. DeLaGarza returns from injury Andrew Wenger will likely take more of his minutes.
Luis Gil has only subbed on 3 times for the Dynamo so far, but it has been the last 3 games. That could be an indication that Wilmer sees that Gil can offer help. From what I’ve seen, he’s very intelligent with the ball at his feet. His head is usually up before the ball even gets to him so he can see where the ball needs to be after he receives it. I think Gil being capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, a wide midfielder, or winger will help him get minutes in the future and possibly starting minutes if there are injuries and he finds ways to contribute off the bench.
RSL Soapbox) From afar, I see the Dynamo as a club that is very conservative in its spending. Do you think Houston spends enough on its players to compete for MLS Cup?
Dynamo Theory) For at least the second year in a row (I didn’t go back beyond last season) the Dynamo were the lowest spending team in MLS. It’s frustrating as a Dynamo fan especially when you see other teams out there that are very loose with the purse strings. That being said, there are several ways to compete in MLS other than spending a bunch of money on expensive players (of course that is a very good way to do it).
Building through the academy is one way, but the Dynamo have not had much success in that regard yet. Quality scouting players and getting good contracts with players is another. This is where I think the Dynamo have found success. Currently the Dynamo are in a 4-way tie for the best offense in terms of goals finished and have one of the better goal differentials despite having the lowest payroll for its players. That’s smart spending and it helped us last year get to the Western Conference Finals. I think when this team is playing at its best they can compete with anyone. Would I like the team to spend smarter AND more? You bet! I’ll end by saying it’s a testament to what these players have done to take away some of the frustration of the lack of spending showing they can compete.
RSL Soapbox) Who are the top three players on RSL that worry you as a Houston Dynamo supporter?
Dynamo Theory) If I could the answer would be Nick Rimando, Nick Rimando, and Nick Rimando. He’s such a difference maker in goal for RSL and can make the save that keeps RSL getting 3 points or ensuring a draw. He does so much and he will frustrate our forwards who are sometimes easily influenced by their confidence. Since answering Rimando x 3 wouldn’t be fair the next player I’d be weary of is Joao Plata. The Dynamo have had trouble containing players that are creative with the ball in midfield so if Plata is available to play against Houston I’m keeping my eye on him – with or without the ball. Lastly because the Dynamo backline does not always make the trip on away games I’m looking at who the most dangerous forward is. RSL has been largely scoring by committee this far in the season, but the player that has taken the most shots has been designated player Jefferson Savarino. This tells me he has the confidence to test keepers and if the Dynamo backline is MIA he could find the back of the net.